Maui News

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewable in Hawaiʻi Overnight

May 25, 2021, 8:14 AM HST
* Updated May 25, 8:16 AM
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FILE PHOTO: Total lunar eclipse April 2014 / Image: Lyle Krannichfeld

Hawaiʻi will be treated to a total lunar eclipse that starts late tonight, with its total red phase occurring between 1:18 and 1:25 a.m. early Wednesday morning, May 26, 2021.

The Bishop Museum’s Jhamandas Watumull Planetarium offered a timeline of what to expect:

“For this eclipse, the Moon begins to move into Earth’s shadow at 11:45 p.m. At 1:18 a.m. the Moon will begin to turn red as it enters the center of Earth’s shadow. The red color comes from sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere, the same reason sunsets produce a red color. At 1:25 a.m. the red color will fade as the Moon begins to move out from Earth’s shadow. At 2:52 a.m. the eclipse ends.”

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow cast into space by light from the Sun. Lunar eclipses only occur during the full moon phase because that is when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are in a line.

According to the Planetarium, this does not happen every full moon “because the Moon’s orbit is tilted by about 5o in relation to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, so it is usually above or below the shadow cast by Earth. Occasionally things line up just right, so that the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, or umbra. This causes a total lunar eclipse.”

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