Home / Science / News /  Lunar eclipse: Moon to go blood-red on May 16. Check timings, other details

Skygazers will be able to see a reddish tint Moon on the night of May 15 and 16 due to the first total lunar eclipse of this year.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth, and a full Moon form a near-perfect lineup in space, in what is known as syzygy. The Moon slides into Earth's shadow, gradually darkening until the entire lunar disk turns from silvery grey to an eerie dim orange or red. Then events unfold in reverse order until the Moon returns to full brilliance. The whole process for the May 16th eclipse will take about five hours and 20 minutes.

Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse?

The reason why Moon turns red during a lunar eclipse is because of Rayleigh's scattering. NASA explains that light travels in waves and different colors of light have different physical properties. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and is scattered more easily by particles in Earth’s atmosphere than red light, which has a longer wavelength.

When the Sun is overhead, we see blue light throughout the sky. But when the Sun is setting, sunlight must pass through more atmosphere and travel farther before reaching our eyes.

During a lunar eclipse, the Moon turns red because the only sunlight reaching the Moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere. The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear.

Lunar eclipse timing:

The lunar eclipse will occur at 7:02 AM (IST) on May 16 and will end at 12:20 PM. However, the lunar eclipse will not be visible in India. Viewers of most of North America, all of Latin America, Western Europe, most of Africa, and the East Pacific will see the Moon darken and acquire a reddish hue from the late evening of May 15 into the early hours of May 16.

A total eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun and casts a shadow on our constant, cosmic companion. The moon will be 225,000 miles (362,000 kilometers) away at the peak of the eclipse — around midnight on the US East Coast

How to watch the lunar eclipse:

If you are unable to watch the eclipse, you can check out NASA's official website which will be live streaming the event on both Youtube and other social media platforms.

The May 16 lunar eclipse will be the first of two lunar eclipses set to take place this year. The second one will take place on November 8.

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