Image Credit: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio/Ernie Wright
Published: May 10, 2021
Historical Date: April 26, 2021

On May 26, 2021, during early morning in the western Americas, the Moon enters the Earth's shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse, the first in almost two and a half years. This animation shows the changing appearance of the Moon as it travels into and out of the Earth's shadow, along with times at various stages. Versions of the animation have been created for both Universal Time (UTC) and Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) — within the U.S. Lower 48, those in the Pacific time zone are best situated to see the eclipse.

The penumbra is the part of the Earth’s shadow where the Sun is only partially covered by the Earth. The umbra is where the Sun is completely hidden. The Moon's appearance isn't affected much by the penumbra. The real action begins when the Moon starts to disappear as it enters the umbra at about 2:45 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time. An hour and a half later, entirely within the umbra, the Moon is a ghostly copper color. For this relatively shallow eclipse, totality lasts only 15 minutes before the Moon begins to emerge from the central shadow.

The view in these animations is geocentric. Because of parallax, the Moon's position against the background stars will look a bit different for observers at different locations on the surface of the Earth. The Moon is in the constellation Scorpius. The two bright stars in the upper right are ω1 and ω2 Scorpii.

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