Stay up late and watch the first of two lunar eclipses this year

On Sunday night, the Earth will once again line up squarely between the sun and moon, creating the first total lunar eclipse of the year.

At its peak, just after midnight, in the midst of totality, the moon will turn red, also known as a super blood moon. A super moon appears brighter and larger because of its close proximity to Earth. The red-orange tint is the result of Earth’s atmosphere refracting sunlight back towards the fully eclipsed moon.

“I’ve seen some very red and very copper eclipses and they’re beautiful, but I’ve seen some eclipses so gray, dark that you could barely find the moon at the height of totality,” said Bart Fried, executive vice president of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York City. “So it’s always interesting to observe because you never know – it’s like Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re going to get in that box of chocolates.”

The general phenomenon of an eclipse – where three or more celestial bodies lineup – is also classified as a syzygy by astronomers, from the Greek word “paired together.” Although our planet will be blocking sunlight to the moon, it will still be visible to the naked eye. The last super blood moon – in January 2019 – made for some stunning photo opportunities.

The eclipse will begin at 9:32 pm in the greater New York area with the Earth’s shadow slowly inching across the surface of May’s flower moon. But viewers may not really notice until it becomes a partial eclipse about an hour later. The shadow will continue to slowly move until the full moon escapes at 1:55 am

The peak – when the shadow looks the most complete – will occur 11 minutes after midnight, but the moon will be fully eclipsed from 11:29 pm until 12:54 am, lasting nearly 1.5 hours.

During this “totality” phase, the northern portion of the moon will be the darkest, which will make the stars of the constellations Libra and Scorpius seem brighter and easier to see.

“Because the moon’s pretty high in the sky, it will be up far enough that just about anybody who’s not blocked by an 800-story building can see it,” Fried said.

The roughly four-hour event can be seen anywhere, without the need of a telescope or binoculars. Leaving the city limits for darker skies will add to the space show, as the Eta Aquarids meteor showers are active in the evening sky until May 27.

“For people who want to take the time to watch the eclipse, you do not sit there for four hours staring at it. It’s like watching paint dry; That’ll drive you nuts, ”Fried said. “You watch it right before it starts and maybe take a nice picture of the moon and every half hour, or even 15 minutes, go out and watch as the changes occur.”

The Liberty Science Center, across the Hudson River in Jersey City, invites the public to join them for their lunar mania. The museum will be open late from 6:30 pm for planetarium exhibits, a Pink Floyd laser show and telescopes set up for viewing until 1 am Tickets cost $ 22.99 – $ 27.99. Observing a lunar eclipse is safe with the naked eye.

The second lunar eclipse of 2022 will occur on November 7th over North America.

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