Look up! When you could see a total lunar eclipse this weekend

(Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of the Beyond The Forecast newsletter!

Barring cloud cover, it will be an exciting weekend for skywatchers in Southwest and Central Virginia as a total lunar eclipse occurs from 10:15 p.m. Sunday to 2:10 a.m. Monday.

Basically what is happening during a lunar eclipse is Earth is between the sun and the moon. We can see Earth’s shadow on the moon’s surface for a few hours as this occurs.

Two words you need to know: umbra and penumbra. The umbra is Earth’s inner shadow and will give the moon a red tint at peak eclipse. The penumbra is the outer shadow and will make the moon slightly dimmer as the eclipse begins and ends.

Here’s a visualization from Tony Rice of how the entire event will look.

(Courtesy: Tony Rice)

I’ll walk you through the entire event over the next few images.

So, the event will begin at 10:15 p.m. Sunday evening as the moon passes into the penumbral, then umbral shadow. A 50% partial eclipse will be occurring by 10:59 p.m.

Moon half obscured around 11 Sunday night

The moon will become redder and redder as it becomes fully engulfed by the umbra and reaches maximum eclipse at 12:11 a.m.

Total lunar eclipse at 12:11 a.m. Monday

The moon will start to pass out of the shadow, reaching 50% partial eclipse status again by 1:23 a.m.

The moon will still be half obscured shortly after 1 a.m. Monday

This event will end at 2:10 a.m. Monday morning.

At the moment, we expect partly to mostly cloudy skies across the area that night, but you should check back with us for the cloud cover forecast as the weekend gets closer.

We would love to see your photos if the clouds don’t get in the way! The easiest way to share is the Pin It feature on our weather app and WSLS.com.

Switching gears to your forecast, we’re coming off a cool Mother’s Day weekend, but temperatures are on the rise! It should also be a nice, sunny stretch of weather. Meteorologist Chris Michaels is tracking when rain returns to the area in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, the New River Valley or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also keep up with me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, follow along!

-- Justin McKee