Home / Science / News /  Lunar eclipse 2021: Rare Super Blood Moon to be seen on 26 May

The first lunar eclipse 2021 is going to take place in the early hours of 26 May. This will be a superlunar event, as it will be a supermoon, a lunar eclipse and a red blood moon all at once.

In India, the eclipse will only be visible partially at a few places in the eastern parts of the country.

It will be best seen from Australia, parts of the United States, western South America, the Pacific and South-East Asia.

According to NASA, a series of celestial events that have been taking place since 17 May will culminate in the lunar eclipse on Wednesday.

What’s a super moon?

A supermoon occurs when a full or new moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to the Earth.

The moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly circular. This means the moon’s distance from Earth varies as it goes around the planet. The closest point in the orbit, called the perigee, is roughly 28,000 miles closer to Earth than the farthest point of the orbit. A full moon that happens near the perigee is called a supermoon.

So why is it super? The relatively close proximity of the moon makes it seem a little bit bigger and brighter than usual, though the difference between a supermoon and a normal moon is usually hard to notice unless you’re looking at two pictures side by side.

How does a lunar eclipse work?

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers all or part of the moon. This can only happen during a full moon, so first, it helps to understand what makes a full moon.

Like the Earth, half of the moon is illuminated by the sun at any one time. A full moon happens when the Moon and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. This allows you to see the entire lit-up side, which looks like a round disc in the night sky.

If the moon had a totally flat orbit, every full moon would be a lunar eclipse. But the moon’s orbit is tilted by about 5 degrees relative to Earth’s orbit. So, most of the time a full moon ends up a little above or below the shadow cast by the Earth.

But twice in each lunar orbit, the moon is on the same horizontal plane as both the Earth and Sun. If this corresponds to a full moon, the sun, the Earth and the moon will form a straight line and the moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow. This results in a total lunar eclipse.

To see a lunar eclipse, you need to be on the night side of the Earth while the moon passes through the shadow.

Why does the moon look red?

When the moon is completely covered by Earth’s shadow it will darken, but doesn’t go completely black. Instead, it takes on a red colour, which is why total lunar eclipses are sometimes called red or blood moons.

Sunlight contains all colours of visible light. The particles of gas that make up Earth’s atmosphere are more likely to scatter blue wavelengths of light while redder wavelengths pass through. This is called Rayleigh scattering, and it’s why the sky is blue and sunrises and sunsets are often red.

In the case of a lunar eclipse, red light can pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and is refracted – or bent – toward the moon, while blue light is filtered out. This leaves the moon with a pale reddish hue during an eclipse.

Is eclipse linked to cyclone?

The lunar eclipse will not trigger any tidal waves and cannot be linked to the cyclone that is in the forecast, a senior astrophysicist has said.

People can be deprived of witnessing the cosmic phenomenon if the sky is overcast, Director of MP Birla Planetarium Debiprasad Duari told news agency PTI.

If there is any swelling of rivers and water bodies, or high tide in the sea that cannot be linked with any planetary positions, he said.

"If there is flooding of areas or swelling of waterbodies that will be due to storm surge which is typical of such cyclonic formation caused by the system," he said.

With inputs from agencies.

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