Some referred to the event as a “super flower blood moon,” making reference to its apparent size in the sky, the abundance of blooms at this time of year and the moon’s color during the eclipse.
Eclipses occur when one celestial object blocks another, casting a shadow known as an “umbra.” During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging our planet’s landscape into a nocturnal darkness. Lunar eclipses, which are much more widely seen, result when Earth blocks sunlight from reaching the moon.
Wednesday morning’s total lunar eclipse was the first since Jan. 21, 2019. It was the first to coincide with a supermoon, referring to when a full moon passes particularly closes to the Earth amid its orbit and appears somewhat brighter and larger, since Sept. 18, 2015.
The next total lunar eclipse will occur on the night of May 15, 2022 — and will be visible from the eastern Lower 48, which missed out on Wednesday morning’s show. Totality will last 85 minutes.
This time around, totality lasted about 14½ minutes, and was visible from western parts of the Americas and the Pacific. Across the Western United States, totality coincided in moonset as the sun rose Wednesday morning; in Australia, it was an evening eclipse, with the moon rising during totality.
The Eastern Seaboard witnessed an unremarkable partial or penumbral lunar eclipse, during which more diffuse parts of the Earth’s shadow clipped the moon, taking a darkened bite out of it.
Totality plunged the moon in a deep red glow, slightly warmer in color than the dark brown lunar eclipse of January 2019. Some hypothesized that the Dec. 22, 2018, eruption of Anak Krakatau in Indonesia darkened the 2019 eclipse, since pollutants in Earth’s atmosphere filter sunlight reaching the moon.
The shades observed during a lunar eclipse are ranked on the Danjon Scale, which ranges from 0 to 4, based on the brightness and color of an eclipse. Values are a loose indicator of materials present in the atmosphere.
Lunar eclipses are different from solar eclipses. During the former, sunlight reaching the moon is intercepted by the Earth, but some makes it through Earth’s atmosphere, turning the moon red during totality. Lunar eclipses can be seen anywhere on the night side of Earth and aren’t overly rare.
Total solar eclipses, on the other hand, occur when the moon blocks sunlight from reaching Earth in a narrow path that may only be a few miles wide. Day becomes night for a few brief moments as the sun’s atmosphere emerges into view behind the jet-black silhouette of the moon.
A partial solar eclipse will be visible in parts of the North and Northeast United States on the morning of June 10, making for a sickle-shaped sunrise. It will appear as a “ring of fire” eclipse in Canada.
Here are photos from around the world of Wednesday morning’s lunar eclipse.