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If clouds clear, total lunar eclipse will shine Sunday night

May 12, 2022
Image By Dominic Ford, In-the-sky.org
Some areas of visibility for the May 15-16 total lunar eclipse.

From EarthSky.org

On the off chance of a break in the clouds Sunday evening (there's a 50-percent chance of showers), here are some additional details on the next total lunar eclipse, which will begin at 7:27 p.m. Pacific May 15, go into totality at 8:29 p.m. and end at 10:55 p.m. This total eclipse is central. That means the moon passes centrally through the axis of Earth’s dark (umbral) shadow. The moon is in a near part of its orbit – close to Earth – during the eclipse. It’s a supermoon. That means, during this eclipse, the moon will appear relatively large in our sky.

Because they are so deep, such eclipses typically have the longest total phases. In this case, the duration of totality lasts almost an hour and a half: 84.9 minutes!

And a total lunar eclipse can be seen from all of Earth that is experiencing night while the eclipse is taking place. But some will see the eclipse better than others, depending on location. In t he Pacific Northwest, we will see the eclipse at moonrise, when the moon is low in the sky, and our viewing time will be reduced because the sun will still be out as the eclipse begins.

Lunar eclipses are safe to view with the unaided eye. Binoculars and telescopes enhance the view, but aren’t required.

During the May 15-16 eclipse, the moon is located in the direction of the constellation Libra.

The eclipse belongs to Saros 131 in the catalog of lunar eclipses. It is number 34 of 72 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the moon’s descending node. The moon moves northward with respect to the node with each succeeding eclipse in the series.

As the May full moon is a supermoon, closest to the Earth for May just 1 1/2 days before the eclipse takes place, in the day or two after the eclipse, people who live along a coastline can expect higher-than-usual tides.

Some call this sort of tide perigean spring tides. But in recent years, since close new or full moons have come to be called supermoons, the extra high tides they bring are sometimes called supermoon tides. Some also favor the term king tides.

If you miss this eclipse, there are two more this year; a partial solar eclipse on October 25 and a total lunar eclipse the night of November 7-8.

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Mike Weland, Publisher

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