Astronomical event: Lunar Eclipse 2021
Discover the lunar eclipse of May 2021. Find out exactly what a lunar eclipse is, why it takes place and how you can best view the lunar eclipse in 2021.
What is a lunar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon ends up in the shadow of the Earth. This only happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are exactly aligned and the Earth is in the center. In addition, this only occurs when it’s a full moon.
Our moon can appear in different colors. During a complete lunar eclipse, the moon turns red. A complete lunar eclipse is also known as “blood moon”.
This red color is caused by the Earth blocking direct sunlight to the Moon. When no more sunlight is reflected by the Moon, the Moon turns red due to the light from the atmosphere of the Earth. In the past the occurrence of a “blood moon” caused a lot of fear, mostly because the reason and consequences of it were unknown.
Different kinds of eclipses
There are different types of lunar eclipses. There is a complete, a partial, or a penumbral lunar eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through a small portion of Earth’s shadow. In this case, what you are observing is a full moon that is less bright. If only part of the Moon passes through the shadow, it is called a partial lunar eclipse.
A lunar eclipse has different durations. A partial lunar eclipse can be short, because the Moon is only partially in the shadow of the Earth. A complete lunar eclipse always lasts longer. This is because the Moon has to cover the entire distance of the Earth. A total lunar eclipse can last up to four hours!
A complete lunar eclipse is very special. The location of the Moon is perfect for it right now: the Moon is at the right distance to be completely covered by the Earth’s shadow! Amazingly, the Moon moves a few centimeters per year at a time. So it may be that we are not able to see lunar eclipses again in a few billion years. So take the chance to watch it now!
Viewing the lunar eclipse in 2021
In the time between 2001 to 2050, there will be a total of 116 lunar eclipses. Half of these will be visible from your location. The other eclipses are not visible, for example because it is daytime.
Unlike solar eclipses, which can be seen from a small area of the Earth, lunar eclipses are visible from anywhere on Earth where the Moon can be seen. At a full moon this is almost everywhere on Earth during the night.
A total lunar eclipse will take place on Wednesday May 26th, 2021.This eclipse will be visible from East Asia, Australia and a large part of North and South America. A partial lunar eclipse will follow on Friday, November 19, 2021. These two lunar eclipses are the only ones taking place in the year 2021.
Viewing a lunar eclipse, when observable, is very easy. You look up at the night sky, and you can find it. Although you don’t need a telescope or binoculars, they can highlight more details!
Discover the astronomical event of May 2021!
Throughout history, eclipses have given rise to awe and fear. Especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood red. You can imagine how terrifying this effect must be when it is unknown what is causing the darkening. Fortunately, over the years we have become wiser and realize nothing serious is going on. So enjoy the lunar eclipse! Need help locating the moon?