May is traditionally the month of the Full Flower Moon – an unusual name derived from Native American traditions. But this month’s Full Moon promises to be all the more exciting for two more reasons. Firstly, it will be the biggest and brightest Supermoon of the year.
Secondly, the Moon will dive into the Earth’s shadow and emerge as the ominous Blood Moon.
This will be the first Blood Moon eclipse since January 2019, and stargazers in select parts of the world are hoping to catch a glimpse of it.
Bruce McClure, an astronomer at EarthSky.org, explained: “It’ll be visible from western North America, southern and far-western South America, the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand, Australia and southeast Asia. Enjoy it while the time is at hand!”
Many are, therefore, wondering whether tonight’s Moon is already ‘full’.
Is it a Full Moon tonight?
Although the Moon already looks ‘full’ to the naked eye tonight, the Full Moon will technically not peak until Wednesday afternoon.
In strictly astronomical terms, a Full Moon occurs when the Moon and Sun face off at a 180-degree angle.
The Moon does not shine with any light of its own and instead reflects the Sun’s rays back at us at night.
But although this only lasts for a brief moment, the Moon always appears full to the unaided eye on the night before and after the peak.
Gordon Johnston, Program Executive at NASA HQ, said: “The next full Moon will be on Wednesday morning, May 26, 2021, appearing opposite the Sun in Earth-based longitude at 7.14am EDT.
“The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Monday night through Thursday morning.”
Here in the UK, the peak will take place at 12.14pm BST (11.11am UTC).
Unfortunately, this will happen in broad daylight so you will have to wait until the evening to see the Supermoon.
This also means the Blood Moon eclipse will not be visible from the UK this time around.
The next Blood Moon on May 16, 2022, however, will be visible from Europe.
When viewed from London, the Moon rose tonight at 7.54pm BST and will set on Wednesday by 4.53am BST.
The Supermoon will then make its grand appearance by 9.25pm BST and set on Thursday by 5.28am BST.
For those lucky enough to see the eclipse tomorrow, totality will begin at 11.11am UTC and wrap up by 11.25am UTC – don’t miss it!
How to watch the Blood Moon eclipse live online:
The eclipse will not be visible from the UK this year but you can still see the Blood Moon online.
The eclipse will be broadcast straight to your home, courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy.
Simply click on this link to go to the free broadcast, which is being hosted on YouTube.
The live stream will kick off at 11am BST (10am UTC) and return at 8pm BST (7pm UTC) with additional views of the Supermoon over Rome.