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How To Watch The 'Super Flower Blood Moon' Lunar Eclipse This Week

Visibility of the total phase in the contiguous U.S., at 7:11 a.m. ET. Totality can be seen everywhere in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, along with Texas, Oklahoma, western Kansas, Hawaii and Alaska.
Visibility of the total phase in the contiguous U.S., at 7:11 a.m. ET. Totality can be seen everywhere in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, along with Texas, Oklahoma, western Kansas, Hawaii and Alaska.

The "Super Flower Blood Moon" is happening early Wednesday morning, as a supermoon coincides with a full lunar eclipse. Here's how to see it.

Watchers of the night sky are in for a treat this week with the arrival of what's been dubbed a "Super Flower Blood Moon."

The lengthy title is the result of a few astronomical phenomena coming together at once. The supermoon will be visible all over the world, and the full lunar eclipse will be visible in many parts of the world, including the western United States.

Early risers in the U.S. can catch a spectacular view of the moon Wednesday morning before sunrise, but what you'll be able to see will depend largely on where you live.

What is it?

Let's start with "super." The shape of the moon's orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle, but an oval. When a full moon reaches the point closest to our planet on its elliptical orbit, it's called a supermoon, or perigee-syzygy, and appears larger than usual in the sky.

Full moons that occur in May are sometimes known as Flower Moons.

And on Wednesday morning, the moon will also appear "blood red" as it passes fully into Earth's shadow, or umbra, resulting in the first total lunar eclipse since 2019. The moon's red hue is caused by light refracted through Earth's atmosphere "red-orange light left over from all of the sunsets and sunrises occurring around the world at that time," according to NASA.

The biggest draw of this celestial event is that a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse are occurring simultaneously.

How do I see it?

Fortunately, anyone will be able to see the supermoon as long as the sky is clear where they are, NASA reports.

But whether you can see the total lunar eclipse — when the moon will turn a blood redis another story.

Stargazers in the western U.S. and Canada, as well as most of Central America and parts of South America, will be able to see the total lunar eclipse starting around 7:11 a.m. ET (that's 5:11 a.m. MT and 4:11 a.m. on the West Coast).

The total lunar eclipse will last about 15 minutes.

Those on the East Coast will miss the full blood moon, but you may still be able to catch a partial lunar eclipse starting around 5:45 a.m. ET. It won't be visible in New England parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Take a look at this animation from NASA to see what time the eclipse will be visible based on your location:

"You only need your eyes to see the drama unfold, but if you have binoculars or a backyard telescope, they'll give a much-enhanced view," said Diana Hannikainen, observing editor at Sky & Telescope.

And if you want to catch the full Super Flower Blood Moon but can't in person where you are, there are several livestreams hosted by observatories and astronomers around the world.

Hannikainen said those who miss Wednesday's eclipse shouldn't despair - they'll be able to catch another one on the night of Nov. 18-19.

"Technically, the November event will be partial, but only the thinnest sliver of the Moon's disk will remain outside the umbra, so for all intents and purposes it'll be very much like a total eclipse," she added.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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