Sunday, May 15th a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon will be visible to most of us in West Virginia (weather permitting) between the hours of 10:30pm and 2am Eastern Time. The start and end of the lunar eclipse’s ‘totality’ is between 11:30pm and 1am. No special equipment is needed to view a lunar eclipse, although an optical telescope or binoculars can make it more exciting!
Several things have aligned to make this astronomical event possible! A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Moon, and Earth are in precise alignment. The Earth blocks the light from the Sun, casting the Moon in its shadow. The fully eclipsed Moon takes on a reddish hue, sometimes called a Blood Moon. A bright ‘supermoon’ occurs when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth during its lunar cycle.
Full Moons have been referred to by many names, by many peoples around the world for centuries, based on what happens during the season they rise. May’s full Moon has been called the Flower Moon, Planting Moon, Milk Moon, and Hare Moon.
The Green Bank Observatory will host a FREE Over the Moon Party outdoors on Sunday, May 15th beginning at 5:30pm. A variety of fun, hands-on activities are available for all ages including making impact craters, a space suit, stomp rockets, radar demonstrations, a moon bounce, and more. There will also be free ground tours of the Green Bank Telescope.
Dinner and snacks will be available for purchase from the Starlight Café. Guided activities will end at 9:30pm, but visitors are welcome to stay late and watch the lunar eclipse in our dark skies. Bring a lawn chair and a blanket to stay cozy while you wait for the Moon, Earth, and Sun to align. The eclipse will be visible for almost an hour and a half long at its totality.
Public attendees are not required to pre-register, be vaccinated, or wear face masks during the outdoor activities. All activities will take place outside the Science Center during this event, there will be no indoor access.