How to watch Wednesday’s total lunar eclipse of ‘Super Flower Blood Moon’

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A total lunar eclipse occurs as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth on the arrival of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, on December 21, 2010 in Truckee, California. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) — The second supermoon of 2021 will bring with it a cosmic phenomenon on Wednesday: the only total lunar eclipse of the year.

On Wednesday, the “Full Flower Moon” will grace the night sky, marking the second of three supermoons this year. This moon got its name because of the abundance of springtime flowers in the Northern Hemisphere around this time, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. May is also the time when farmers begin to seed their fields after hard frosts have ended.

The full moon will appear slightly larger than average because it will reach perigee, or the closest point to Earth in its current orbit, making it a supermoon.

May’s supermoon is distinctive because it’s also a “blood moon” due to the total lunar eclipse, which occurs when the Earth, positioned directly between the moon and sun, blocks the moon from sunlight.

It’s called a blood moon because of the reddish hue it takes on during the eclipse, according to NASA. The red color comes from sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere as the moon passes through the planet’s shadow over several hours.

This is the first of only two lunar eclipses in 2021. A partial lunar eclipse will occur on Nov. 19.

How to watch 

Unlike solar eclipses, it’s safe to view lunar eclipses with the naked eye.

According to NASA, the best viewing of the eclipse will be in Hawaii, Alaska and the western states. For the eastern side of the U.S., the eclipse will begin during dawn twilight.

“You may be able to observe the first part of the eclipse as the Moon just starts to darken, but the Moon will be near or on the horizon as Earth’s shadow begins to cover it,” NASA stated.

No matter where they are, skywatchers around the globe will be able to enjoy the show under clear weather conditions. When you are able to see it, however, will depend on your time zone.  

According to NASA, the entire eclipse will last about five hours, from 08:47:39 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) to 13:49:41 UTC, while the peak — at 11:19:52 UTC — will last about 14 minutes. That translates to a start time of 4:47 a.m. Eastern Standard time and 1:47 a.m. Pacific.

This means that on the west coast of the Americas, the eclipse will occur in the early morning hours when the moon is setting. 

If you don’t happen to be in an optimal viewing area, there will be several free live views of the eclipse online Wednesday.

The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles plans to stream live views starting at 4:45 a.m. EDT, two minutes before the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins. Starting at 5:30 a.m. EDT, the Lowell Observatory, where the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered, will broadcast the eclipse live from multiple telescopes at its facility in Flagstaff, Arizona. Also, check out the Virtual Telescope Project, which will have a live feed starting at 6 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. It will also have a second stream at 3. p.m. EDT

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