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Supermoon, lunar eclipse coincide Wednesday morning

We won’t get to see the full thing before moonset and sunrise Wednesday morning

Sadly, our view won't be as great as that of others.

ROANOKE, Va. – May’s full moon will be considered a ‘supermoon,’ which means that it’s full during its closest approach to Earth (called perigee).

At the same time, the earth will be passing in between the moon and the sun. This will cast a shadow over the moon, known as the lunar eclipse.

For our area, this likely won’t be a big deal. Folks in the western part of the country will be treated to a better view (see map above). In fact, this is the first total lunar eclipse visible west of the Rockies in more than two years.

Earth’s outer shadow (the penumbra) begins casting over the moon’s surface before 5 a.m. local time Wednesday.

Moon begins entering Earth's penumbra around 4:47 a.m. Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

By 5:45 a.m., the moon will be completely inside the earth’s outer shadow. This is the partial lunar eclipse, when you may notice it looking slightly dimmer.

The moon is completely inside Earth's penumbra around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

The part of a lunar eclipse that most sky-gazers get excited about is the red hue. This happens due to Rayleigh scattering of light, similar to what we see during sunrises and sunsets.

That’s when the moon passes through earth’s inner shadow (the umbra). That will start to happen around 6:03 a.m. local time Wednesday, which is exactly when the sun is rising.

The moon will begin to pass inside Earth's umbra around 6:03 a.m. Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

So, don’t expect to see the red shade over the moon this time around. Our next best chance to see a total lunar eclipse like this will come May 15, 2022.


About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.