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

On Sunday night, Earth will once again line up directly between the sun and the 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 supermoon appears brighter and larger due to its proximity to Earth. The red-orange tint is the result of Earth’s atmosphere refracting sunlight toward the fully eclipsed Moon.

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

Astronomers also classify the general phenomenon of an eclipse, where three or more celestial bodies line up, as a syzygy, from the Greek word for “paired.” Although our planet will block sunlight from the moon, it will still be visible to the naked eye. The last super blood moon, in January 2019, provided stunning photo opportunities.

The eclipse will begin at 9:32 pm in the New York metropolitan area with Earth’s shadow inching across the surface of the Mayflower Moon. But viewers may not notice until it turns into a partial eclipse an hour or so later. The shadow will continue to move slowly until the full moon slips away at 1:55 a.m.

The peak, when the shadow is most complete, will occur 11 minutes after midnight, but the moon will be completely eclipsed from 11:29 pm to 12:54 am, lasting almost 1.5 hours.

During this “totality” phase, the northern part of the moon will be the darkest, making the stars in the constellations Libra and Scorpio appear brighter and easier to see.

“Because the moon is quite high in the sky, it will be high enough that anyone who isn’t blocked by an 800-story building can see it,” Fried said.

The roughly four-hour event can be viewed anywhere, without the need for a telescope or binoculars. Heading out of the city limits for darker skies will add to the space spectacle, as the Eta Aquarids meteor showers will be active in the night sky through May 27.

“For people who want to take the time to see the eclipse, they don’t sit there for four hours looking at it. It’s like watching paint dry; That will drive you crazy,” Fried said. “You look at it right before it starts and maybe take a good picture of the moon and every half hour, or even 15 minutes, you go outside and watch the changes happen.”

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

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

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