Backyard astronomers want to look to the skies later this month to witness the “super blood moon.” The super blood moon will be visible on May 26 in parts of the United States. The super blood moon happens when two lunar phenomena occur at the same time. We see a supermoon at the point when the moon is slightly closer to the Earth than usual in its orbital cycle, making it appear larger in the sky.
We see a blood moon when there is a total lunar eclipse giving the moon a reddish appearance. The super blood moon will happen when the full moon goes into the dark inner shadow of Earth. The Earth’s atmosphere blocks shorter wavelengths of light, such as blue, but allows longer wavelengths, such as red, to pass through the atmosphere and continue to the moon.
The result is a larger than normal full moon with a copper-like reddish color. Some refer to the super blood moon as the “flower” super moon, which comes from the Farmer’s Almanac. That name comes from flowers that tend to bloom during this time of year. The full moon on May 26 is also notable for being the second supermoon of 2021.
NASA notes that while the supermoon is a bit closer to Earth the normal, it’s only about 98 miles closer. Some people won’t even notice that the moon is larger in the nighttime sky. Amateur astronomers will be able to view the super blood moon over Eastern Asia, the Pacific ocean, and parts of the western US. Most of the East Coast will be unable to see the super blood moon because it will be below the horizon at the time of the full eclipse.
In April, skywatchers were treated to a phenomenon known as the super pink moon. Skywatches around the world viewed that event and will certainly be out to see the super blood moon later this month.