Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Total Lunar Eclipse and Perigee Moon Wednesday, May 26, 2021
|Eastern horizon as seen from Sydney on 26 May at 21:00 AEST. The Moon is at Perigee, when it is closest to Earth and the eclipse is about 10 minutes from totality. The inset shows the telescopic/binocular view at this time. Click to embiggen||Eastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on 26 May at 20:30 ACST. The Moon is at Perigee, when it is closest to Earth and the eclipse is about 10 minutes from totality. The inset shows the telescopic/binocular view at this time. Click to embiggen||Eastern horizon as seen from Perth on 26 May at 19:00 AWST. The Moon is at Perigee, when it is closest to Earth and the eclipse is about 10 minutes from totality. The inset shows the telescopic/binocular view at this time. Click to embiggen|
On the evening of Wednesday, May 26, there will be an excellent total eclipse of the Moon, the first in Australia since 2018.
As well as being the first total eclipse in a while, this one will be a rather special eclipse, as perigee (when the Moon is closest to Earth) will occur during the eclipse leading to some folks calling it a "super moon" eclipse.
|Full Moon May 26 21:00, perigee May 26 -9h Total Lunar Eclipse. 21:10||Full Moon December 19 15:00 Moon at apogee 18th -26h|
You will also see some sites calling this a "blood Moon", The Moon does not turn the colour of blood but will go a deep copper colour due to the refraction of red light through our atmosphere. This will be a fairly shallow eclipse with the Moon remaining visible as a coppery disk.
Unfortunately, the May 26 eclipse occurs midweek. Fortunately, it occurs in the early evening, so you don't have to stay up late and the kids can watch. All of Australia gets to see the deepest totality, and only Western Australia sees the early part of the eclipse in the twilight. Totality is relatively short and not very deep, only 18 minutes of totality, compared to the July 28, 2018 total eclipse of 104 minutes, the longest this century.
You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Watching earth's shadow creep across the Moon's face, as the stars begin to appear again is quite beautiful. The Moon is very obvious to the west with the bright red star Antares close by in the head of the constellation of the scorpion. Binoculars or a telescope are a plus, but not necessary.
A guide I wrote for the October 2014 lunar eclipse to taking photos of the eclipse is here. And here is a more general (and more recent) link to lunar photography with mobile phones and adapters that is useful for mobile phone imaging of the eclipse.
On the East coast, the eclipse starts after astronomical twilight when the sky is fully dark (see the table below for times).
In the central states the eclipse starts on or jsu before astronomical twilight so the sky will be dark enough to see the shaow of earth. Totality when the sky is fully dark (see table below).
In WA, the eclipse begins in the early twilight, but Earth's shadow should still be visible, totality begins when the sky is full dark (see table below).
The eclipse starts reasonably high in the sky and is good viewing from almost anywhere, urban, suburban, or country. You don't need to move from your backyard unless there is a high-rise blocking your view to the east. It is late autumn so don't forget to get rugged up and have some hot drinks on hand. Even if it is cloudy it is still worth watching for the changing light and the occasional glimpses of the darkening Moon.
New Zealand sees the whole of the eclipse.
See here for a map and contact timings in Universal Time for sites outside Australia.
|City||Civil Twilight||Nautical Twilight||Astronomical twilight||Eclipse Start||Totality Start||Maximum Eclipse||Totality End||Eclipse End|
|Alice Springs (ACST)||18:21||18:48||19:16||19:15||20:40
|Brisbane (AEST)||18:21||18:48||19:16||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Cairns (AEST)||18:13||18:40||19:06||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Canberra (AEST)||17:29||18:00||18:31||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Hobart (AEST)||16:50||17:25||17:59||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Melbourne (AEST)||17:41||18:14||18:45||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Perth (AWST)||17:49||18:18||18:48||17:45||19:10 (perigee 19:00)||19:19||19:28||20:53|
|Rockhampton (AEST)||17:44||18:12||18:39||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Sydney (AEST)||17:24||17:55||18:26||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
|Townsville (AEST)||18:05||18:32||18:59||19:45||21:10 (perigee 21:00)||21:19||21:28||22:53|
Weather: Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.
Here is the near-real time satellite view of the clouds (day and night) http://satview.bom.gov.au/