St. Louis will be in the path of totality for a blood moon lunar eclipse on Sunday, May 15. The eclipse starts at 8:30 and is expected to be at its peak at 11:11 p.m.
What is a blood moon lunar eclipse?
Some ancient cultures did not understand why the moon turned red, causing fear. At least one explorer, Christopher Columbus, used this to his advantage in 1504.
A “blood moon” occurs when the Earth’s moon is in a total lunar eclipse. Although of little astronomical significance, the view in the sky is striking as the normally white moon turns red or reddish-brown.
How red the moon looks may depend on how much pollution, cloud cover, or debris is in the atmosphere. For example, if an eclipse occurs shortly after a volcanic eruption, the particles in the atmosphere will make the moon appear darker than normal.
Although there are planets throughout the solar system, only the Earth is lucky enough to experience lunar eclipses because its shadow is large enough to completely cover the Moon. The moon is slowly moving away from our planet (about 4 centimeters per year), and this situation will not last forever. There are approximately two to four lunar eclipses each year, and each is visible from about half of the Earth.
How do I see it?
Unlike with a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses aren’t fussy. You don’t have to drive miles to get to the path of totality. You also don’t need special viewing glasses. Instead, you can just pop outside at the time of totality and see the moon with the naked eye. For a close up view you can also use a telescope or even binoculars. If you really want to get a good view, leave the city to reduce ambient lighting. Elephant Rocks State Park (7390, 7406 Mo-21, Belleview, Mo., 573-546-3454) is hosting a Blood Moon Total Eclipse Viewing Event on Sunday, May 15, keeping the park open from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. for spectators. The dark skies around the park ensure a great view.