GBO Celebrates the Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse Sunday May 15th
Sunday, May 15th a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon will be visible to most of us in West Virginia (weather permitting) between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. Eastern Time. The start and end of the lunar eclipse’s ‘totality’ is between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. No special equipment is needed to view a lunar eclipse, although an optical telescope or binoculars can make it more exciting!
Several things have aligned to make this astronomical event possible! A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in precise alignment. The Earth blocks the light from the Sun, casting the Moon in its shadow. The fully eclipsed Moon takes on a reddish hue, sometimes called a Blood Moon. A bright ‘supermoon’ occurs when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth during its lunar cycle.
Full Moons have been referred to by many names, by many peoples around the world for centuries, based on what happens during the season they rise. May’s full Moon has been called the Flower Moon, Planting Moon, Milk Moon, and Hare Moon. The lunar eclipse will be visible from the majority of the Americas and Antarctica, as well as the western reaches of Europe and Africa and the eastern side of the Pacific. Skywatchers in New Zealand, eastern Europe and the Middle East will experience a penumbral eclipse, during which only the edge of Earth’s shadow falls over the moon. The partial eclipse will begin on May 15 at 10:28 p.m. EDT (0228 GMT on May 16), reaching its maximum on May 16 at 12:11 a.m. EDT (0411 GMT).
The Green Bank Observatory will host a free Over the Moon Party outdoors on Sunday, May 16th beginning at 5:30pm. A variety of fun, hands-on activities are available for all ages include making impact craters, a space suit, stomp rockets, radar demonstrations, a moon bounce, and more. There will also be free ground tours of the Green Bank Telescope.
Dinner and snacks will be available for purchase from the Starlight Café. Guided activities will end at 9:30 p.m., but visitors are welcome to stay late and watch the lunar eclipse in our dark skies. Bring a lawn chair and a blanket to stay cozy while you wait for the Moon, Earth, and Sun to align. The eclipse will be visible for almost an hour and a half long at its totality.
Public attendees are not required to pre-register, be vaccinated, or wear facemasks during the outdoor activities. All activities will take place outside the Science Center during this event, there will be no indoor access. Learn more about the Green Bank Observatory and Science Center at greenbankobservatory.org.
Thanks for Jill Malusky, GBO Public Information Officer, for the information in this story.