A lunar eclipse is seen on May 15, 2022 from...

A lunar eclipse is seen on May 15, 2022 from Sea Cliff. Credit: Ken Spencer

The earth, sun and moon will align Sunday for a mesmerizing sight in the night sky — a Super Blood Flower Moon so-named because the celestial body will appear enlarged and with a reddish tint amid the Earth's springtime bloom.

The first total lunar eclipse of 2022 is expected Sunday night, an event also called a blood moon because the earth blocks the light of the sun making the moon appear red. It coincides with a supermoon, which is when the moon looks a little bit bigger because it’s closer to the earth.

Here’s what you need to know to see Sunday's sky show.

What is a Super Flower Blood Moon?

Blood moons occur during a total lunar eclipse when the earth is directly between the moon and the sun, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. As the moon passes through the earth’s shadow, also known as the umbra, our planet’s atmosphere scatters the sun’s light and reflects it as a reddish-brown color on the moon.

Although not an official astronomical term, a supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest point to earth or perigee, according to NASA.

The May full moon is given the nickname the Flower Moon because flowers are abundant this time of year in the northern hemisphere, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

Those events all combine this weekend for the Super Flower Blood Moon, which most recently happened last May.

When is it?

The eclipse starts about 10:30 p.m. Sunday and continues until about 2 a.m. Monday. Totality, the period when the moon is completely immersed in the umbra, begins around 11:30 p.m. here on the East Coast and continues until about 1 a.m. The peak will occur about 12:11 a.m. Monday.

During totality the moon will have a reddish color while it may appear to have an orange-yellow or brown hue during other times, said Alan Cousins, vice president of the Custer Institute, a public observatory in Southold.

“Little by little, the moon will get darker and redder,” Cousins said.

Do I need any special gear to see it?

While spectators were required to use special glasses to avoid eye damage during the solar eclipse of 2017, no special shades are needed this weekend. The plain old naked eye is fine to gaze, although binoculars or a telescope can enhance the experience, said Joe Rao, a meteorologist from Putnam Valley who will deliver a virtual talk for the Hamptons Observatory on May 23

“You've seen the full moon on many, many nights in your life and you've never had to squint or use any kind of sunglass or moon glass to block out the lunar rays,” Rao said. “That’s only with the sun eclipse.”

Where can I see it?

As long as there are no tall buildings or trees blocking the sky, you should be fine. Just go outside and tilt your head back.

“The moon will be relatively high in the sky so it should be really easy to see pretty much from any vantage point,” Cousins said.

What’s the weather forecast like?

It’s not looking great. As of Saturday afternoon, there was a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. Otherwise, it will probably be mostly cloudy with patchy fog after 11 p.m.

For an event like this, the clearer it is overhead the better.

“Hopefully the skies cooperate,” Cousins said.

Is it accurate to call it a Super Flower Blood Moon?

Rao criticized the rise in popularity of the term blood moon in the past decade. He linked the moniker to a 2014 prophecy from a pair of Christian preachers who said a series of blood moons in 2015 foretold the end of days. Plus, the moon in an eclipse isn’t really blood red and can appear more brown or even gray in color, Rao said.

And as for it being super, he said the moon will only appear about 14% larger than when it is further away from the earth.

“I would bet that the average person wouldn't even notice the difference,” he said.

There are usually about three or four super moons in a year and about three or four total lunar eclipses are visible from anywhere on earth in a decade, he said, so neither event is particularly rare. But that’s not to say it’s something to be missed.

“It really is a beautiful sight and an eerie sight,” he said of the moon during a total eclipse. “It looks like the moon is almost translucent. It looks like the moon has become kind of like a glass ball with a reddish glow within.”

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