Clear Sacramento skies make perfect viewing for a week of stargazing
If you missed the lunar eclipse there's more to come
This week's skies are a special treat for stargazers. Wednesday 26, 2021 gave us a lunar eclipse, and a special one for a number of reasons, including being one of the shortest at less than 15 minutes. But if you missed it, don't worry--there's more to come this week.
After the eclipse, this week we will be able to see Mercury "kissing" Venus.
According to Forbes, "In the nights after this “Super Flower Blood Moon Eclipse” it will also be possible to see tiny Mercury shining next to the super-bright planet Venus, which returns to the post-sunset night sky as the “Evening Star.”
Super moon kicks off a series of astronomical events
"The July 26, 1953 total lunar eclipse had one of the longest periods of totality in the 20th century—100 minutes and 43 seconds."--timeanddate
In Sacramento, the eclipse meant an early morning for the 4:18am total eclipse, high in the southwestern sky.
Those who wanted to see the entire eclipse, starting when the moon began to dim, needed to get up at 1:47am.
The weather forecast for Sacramento this week couldn't be better for stargazing! If you can watch the night sky somewhere with low light pollution this week, even better.
What is a lunar eclipse?
Lunar ecplises happen when the sun, Earth and moon make a line. This is called syzygy in astronomy, which comes from the Greek word for being paired together, according to timeanddate.
The last full lunar eclipse was 2 and a half years ago.
Wednesday's eclipse was only fully visible in the West Coast, including Sacramento! But other eastern parts of the US were able to see a partial eclipse. This is because the eclipse happened as the moon was setting in the US.
Australia, New Zealand, Western South America, and South East Asia were also able to see the full eclipse.
What makes this eclipse special?
Not only is it shorter, it's also the biggest and brightest moon we will have in 2021.
It's been called a Super Flower Moon, because it's happening in Spring when the flowers are out. Super moons happen only when the moon is full and orbiting close to the earth.
This May full moon is 2021’s closest (and therefore biggest and brightest) full moon of the year: a supermoon. --Earthsky
Wednesday's moon was also a Blood moon. As it moves into the Earth's shadow the moon will turn a shade of red. Our ancestors thought blood moons were bad omens or signs, but now that we know the science we can appreciate them for their beauty instead!
So make the most of the perfect Sacramento weather and keep your eyes on the skies this week.