Eclipse spurs otherworldly questions

Press Publications staff member Brianna Luecke captured this image of the Super Flower Blood Moon from her White Bear Lake home.

The impressive color of Mid-May’s Super Flower Blood Moon caught the eyes of stargazers who may also have been inspired by its equally impressive name. The eclipse lasted about 5 hours and 19 minutes, beginning during the evening of May 15 and ending early in the morning, May 16.

As for its lengthy name, that can be broken down into three parts. The term “supermoon” comes from how large the moon appears to us here on Earth. According to NASA, a supermoon is defined when the moon is at its closest point to Earth, making it appear larger than normal. 

The term “flower moon” refers to the full moon’s names that are typically assigned during that particular month. April has a “pink” moon, May has a “flower moon” because it coincides with the blooming flowers in spring, and this month’s full moon will be the “strawberry” moon.

As for the term “blood moon,” the portion of the eclipse where it gets this name lasted a total of 1 hour and 24 minutes for those of us in the metro area. The moon temporarily appears red because light from the sun reflects on the moon, and the color shows up as red because long wavelengths like red and orange can pass through the atmosphere. The red right is refracted around the earth, hitting the moon to make it appear red. 

As for the next total lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait until Nov. 7 of this year, but that eclipse likely will have a shorter name. 

- Corrine Stremmel

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