If we get enough of a break from the clouds tonight, we’re in for a late-night treat: A total lunar eclipse!
Tonight (Sunday) the moon will cross directly into Earth’s shadow, blocking it from the sun completely. During this time, the moon will darken and appear to turn a reddish color as it reflects light from the earth.
A total lunar eclipse typically only occurs twice every two-and-a-half to three years. The spectacle only happens when the moon is full, and lasts for a few hours.
Andrew Humphrey said It will be mostly cloudy and stormy, so the event will be tough to witness.
What exactly is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse, which is one of three types of lunar eclipses, occurs when the moon moves directly into the inner part of the earth’s shadow -- known as the umbra -- completely blocking the sun from the moon. The light from the sun is what normally causes the moon to shine, so when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, the lack of direct sunlight causes the moon to dim.
But the moon doesn’t go completely dark during a total lunar eclipse. Sunlight shining through the earth’s atmosphere still reaches the moon’s surface, NASA says, lighting it dimly.
That light can cause the moon to look red during a total lunar eclipse, as the blue light is filtered out by the time the wavelengths reach the moon. According to NASA, colors that have “shorter wavelengths -- the blues and violets -- scatter more easily than colors with longer wavelengths, like red and orange.” So, the red colors are more visible during an eclipse.
The more dust or clouds in the earth’s atmosphere during a lunar eclipse, the more red the moon will look, NASA says.
Each time a lunar eclipse occurs, it is visible to about half of the earth. Lunar eclipses aren’t too common because the “moon’s orbit around Earth is tilted relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun. This tilt is the reason why we have occasional eclipses instead of eclipses every month,” NASA says.
How to see the May 15, 2022 eclipse in Metro Detroit
If the clouds clear enough across Metro Detroit Sunday night, the total lunar eclipse should be visible to those willing to stay awake for it. The eclipse will begin late Sunday night and last a few hours into Monday morning.
Here’s the viewing timeline:
- 11 p.m. Sunday: The full moon will begin to move into Earth’s shadow. Part of the moon will be darkened by the shadow at this point.
- 12:11 a.m. Monday: The greatest eclipse will occur at this time. The moon will be completely within Earth’s shadow and blocked from the sun.
- 1:23 a.m. Monday: The moon begins moving out of the earth’s shadow. The moon will still be partially within and darkened by the shadow.
- 2:10 a.m. Monday: The moon will have moved completely out of Earth’s shadow and will be bright like normal.
It will be mostly cloudy and stormy, so the event will be tough to witness.
Will you be staying up to watch the lunar eclipse? Let us know in the comments!