Look to the skies: A total lunar eclipse will be visible in May 15
By Brad Spakowitz
NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – Get ready for a total lunar eclipse the night of Sunday, May 15 – the first visible here since last May (though a nearly total lunar eclipse occurred November 19).
The timing for the eclipse could not be more perfect: It’s a weekend and it’s not too late at night, and we will be able to see the entire eclipse from start to finish.
The only thing that can go wrong is a cloudy sky, and over the past 20 years, the date has been cloudy 70% of the time – so keep your fingers crossed.
Lunar eclipse basics
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is full and the Earth is positioned precisely between the sun and the moon, allowing the Earth’s shadow to dim the lunar surface.
There are two parts of Earth’s shadow – the penumbra, which is a dim shadow; and the umbra, which is a dark shadow.
The total stage of the eclipse occurs when the entire moon passes through the umbra, this is when the moon will take on an orange hue, sometimes called “blood moon.”
No special equipment is needed to see a lunar eclipse, your eyes are just fine.
If you want a close-up view, binoculars are safe to use, as a lunar eclipse poses no threat to your vision, unlike a solar eclipse.
What to know about this eclipse
The Sunday, May 15 lunar eclipse begins at 8:32 pm and lasts 5 hours, 18 minutes, 44 seconds, ending at 1:50 am (May 16).
The main event is the time of totality (when the moon turns orange), starting at 10:29 pm and ending at 11:54 pm – meaning the duration of totality is 1 hour, 24 minutes, 52 seconds.
The maximum totality is at exactly 11:11:28 pm.
An interesting tidbit: this eclipse occurs during a “supermoon,” which occurs when the moon is slightly closer to earth than average, so the moon should appear slightly bigger.
If you miss this lunar eclipse, or if the weather does not cooperate, there will be another total lunar eclipse later this year, on November 8.
But that eclipse occurs at an inconvenient time, the predawn hours, and while we will see the totality part of the eclipse, we will miss the ending, because the sun will be rising as the moon slips below the western horizon and out of sight.
After that, we will have to wait a while, as the next chance of seeing a total lunar eclipse here will not be until March 13-14, 2025.