Blood moon total lunar eclipse coming this weekend

Alabama will get to see the entirety of the event Sunday night
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:53 AM PDT|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 1:31 PM PDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Something we don’t get to witness very often is going to happen in the night sky this coming Sunday -- a total lunar eclipse!

Total lunar eclipses are only viewable about once every 2.5 years in Alabama, on average. For that reason alone you should consider venturing out and joining millions of others witnessing this event. I assure you it will be time well spent if the sky is clear.

A total lunar eclipse as viewed from above.
A total lunar eclipse as viewed from above.(WSFA 12 News)

So what exactly is a total lunar eclipse? I’m glad you asked!

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly. When the moon becomes completely immersed in the dark cone-shaped shadow of Earth you have yourself a total lunar eclipse. That moment of totality only lasts for a matter of minutes.

It’s at that moment the full moon appears to look reddish in color. That’s because Earth’s atmosphere scatters away all light except red. This is where the name “full blood moon” comes from as the moon takes on that bloody color.

A total lunar eclipse will happen this Sunday.
A total lunar eclipse will happen this Sunday.(WSFA 12 News)

Not everyone on Earth gets to witness every total lunar eclipse; it depends on where you are and what time of day it is. Fortunately for Alabama -- and much of the U.S. -- this particular eclipse will be visible in its entirety!

That means we’ll get to see the moon from the time it begins to enter Earth’s shadow until the time it leaves. The whole event will last just over 5 hours from 8:32 p.m. Sunday until 1:50 a.m. Monday.

The moment of totality, often called “maximum eclipse,” occurs at precisely 11:11 p.m. in Alabama. More on the exact timing and what it will look like in our night sky can be found here.

A total lunar eclipse will occur Sunday night.
A total lunar eclipse will occur Sunday night.(WSFA 12 News)

The next total lunar eclipse comes later this year on November 8th. That one will also be visible in the United States, but we won’t see the entire thing from start to finish in Alabama. While we will see the moment of totality, Alabama will miss part of the partial and penumbral phases.

The key to this event (and any night sky event) is Mother Nature. Will there be clouds and/or precipitation, or will the sky be clear? That’s the million-dollar question.

Every. Single. Time.

The forecast for Sunday evening and night isn’t set in stone as there will be at least some clouds across Alabama, but their exact location at any point in time is impossible to predict. The forecast officially calls for partly cloudy skies, which means some will be clearer than others.

Continue checking back for cloud forecasts and use satellite imagery tools to determine if the sky over your head will be clear enough to see this amazing and rare spectacle!

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