It will all start with a full Moon on May 26, 2021.
But this full “Flower Moon” will be remarkable for two reasons:
- It’s 2021’s biggest “supermoon” and will appear 8% bigger in the sky than the average full Moon because it will be at its closest to Earth.
- It’s also a total lunar eclipse “Blood Moon” that will be visible to an entire night-side of Earth—and that includes some of North America.
Just like clockwork, this “Super Flower Blood Moon Eclipse” marks a point in the orbit of the Earth by the Moon that sets-off a chain of events that then causes a solar eclipse half-an-orbit later, when the New Moon is between the Earth and the Sun.
On June 10, 2021 the “supermoon” will have become a “micro moon”—not a term that’s in popular use, but it does help explain what’s going on.
Whereas the “supermoon” was close to Earth, this New Moon will be the farthest from Earth.
The result is an annular solar eclipse that will be visible as a “ring of fire” around the Moon from parts of Canada, Greenland and Russia, and a huge partial solar eclipse at (or soon after) sunrise from northeast U.S. states. Europe will also see its biggest partial solar eclipse since 2015 as up to 32% of the Sun gets covered by the Moon.
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Note: never look at the partial phases of any solar eclipse without proper eye protection—and that means solar eclipse glasses. Lunar eclipses are completely safe at all times.
But why do two eclipses follow each other? And what causes eclipses—and an “eclipse season?”
What is an ‘eclipse season?’
Eclipses are always twins (and sometimes triplets). Eclipse seasons are a period of between 31 and 37 days that occurs ever 173 days, so around twice per year. The one coming-up is 2021’s first of two.
An eclipse season occurs when Moon is perfectly lined-up to intersect the ecliptic—the apparent path of the Sun through our daytime sky and the plane of Earth’s orbit of the Sun.
The Moon’s orbit of Earth is tilted by 5º to the ecliptic, but it must cross the ecliptic twice each month. Those two positions are called nodes. Usually it reaches these nodes when the the Sun and Moon seem far apart from our point of view on Earth. This is why an eclipse does not occur each and every New Moon (because the Moon is above or below the Sun) and full Moon (because the Moon is above or below Earth’s shadow).
It’s only when the Moon is precisely at those nodes during New Moon or full Moon that an eclipse can result.
- A lunar eclipse occasionally happens at full Moon when the Earth is between the Sun and Moon, blocking sunlight from reaching the lunar surface.
- A solar eclipse occasionally happens New Moon when the Moon is between the Earth and Sun.
However, when the Moon does reach one of those nodes, it’s going to hit the other eclipse node two weeks later, and sometimes for a third time two weeks after that, too.
When is the 2021’s second ‘eclipse season?’
2021’s second eclipse season begins on November 19, 2021 when a partial lunar eclipse—a “Frosty Half-Blood Moon Eclipse”—will see 97% of the Moon enter Earth’s dark umbral shadow and turn reddish. It will be visible from North and South America, Australia and Asia.
It will be followed by the celestial icing on the cake—a dramatic total solar eclipse in Antarctica that will be visible (clear skies allowing) low in the sky above the floating icebergs of the Wedell Sea.
Disclaimed: I am the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.