Look up late at night on May 15, and you’ll be able to see a lunar event unlike any other the rest of the year.
That’s because the full moon of May 2022 — also known as the Flower Moon — is the first supermoon of 2022, the first of two lunar eclipses, and the only supermoon eclipse this year.
In short, May’s full moon is a lot of things, and it’s sure to be an event you don’t want to miss.
Let’s break down how you can see it and what each of these terms means.
Full Moon May 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse—How To See It
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon moves into the shadow of the Earth.
These events are sometimes called Blood Moons because of the reddish hue the moon will take on as it passes through Earth’s shadow.
The full eclipse will be visible from most of North America, all of South America, Europe, Africa and Antarctica.
Most of the United States won’t have to stay up exceptionally late to spot this event, either. The lunar eclipse officially begins at 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 15.
That’s the moment when the moon will first enter the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, so very little will be noticeable at this point.
Over the course of the next hour or so, however, observers will begin to see Earth’s shadow slowly overtaking the moon’s brightness.
Totality officially begins at 11:29 p.m. EDT, with the peak of the eclipse occurring at 12:11 a.m. EDT.
It’s during this time the moon will take on that reddish hue that gives it the Blood Moon name.
This is the first of two lunar eclipses in 2022.
The next one will happen on Nov. 8, and most of North America, eastern Asia and eastern Australia will be able to see that total lunar eclipse.
Why Is The Blood Moon Red?
When a total lunar eclipse occurs, the moon passes directly into the shadow of the Earth.
Light from the planet is refracted around the edges of our atmosphere and shines onto the moon.
Something similar happens during sunrises and sunsets when the sky can appear different shades of red.
Under normal conditions, the sun’s white light is directly reflected off the surface of the moon, so the moon appears white.
During an eclipse, however, it’s as if we’re seeing one of our sunrises or sunsets being reflected onto the moon instead.
What Is A Supermoon, Anyway?
Supermoons occur when the full moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth in its monthly orbit.
Supermoons, because of their proximity, appear slightly larger and brighter than a regular full moon.
On the night of May 15, the moon will be roughly 225,015 miles away, compared to its average distance of 238,900 miles away.
May’s supermoon is the first of four supermoons in a row, which will all occur over the course of the summer in the months of June, July and August.
Why Is May’s Full Moon Called the Flower Moon?
Full moon names come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources.
Because of all those different origins, May’s full moon has been called Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon and Egg Laying Moon, and all of those names have one thing in common: They refer to signs of spring.
During the month of May, flowers are abundant and farmers are planting corn in their fields.
No matter what you call this moon, we have three more supermoons in the coming months, all of which are slightly closer than the May supermoon.