KEY POINTS

  • May's Blood Moon will coincide with the Full Flower Moon, making it even rarer, NASA says
  • A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth perfectly align with one another
  • The Blood Moon is expected to last for about 14 minutes and 30 seconds

A super "Blood Moon" is set to enthrall skywatchers in North America in the early hours of May 26. The upcoming celestial event will mark the first total lunar eclipse to be visible in North America in over two years.

What is a Blood Moon?

The Blood Moon – named for its color – is a relatively rare phenomenon as it only occurs during a total lunar eclipse, when the sun, moon and the Earth are perfectly aligned with each other. From Earth's point of view, the moon emits a reddish glow during the event. 

"When this happens, the only light that reaches the moon's surface is from the edges of the Earth's atmosphere," explained NASA's Space Place.

"The air molecules from Earth's atmosphere scatter out most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects onto the moon's surface with a red glow, making the moon appear red in the night sky."

The totality of May's Blood Moon, according to Forbes, will last for around 14 minutes and 30 seconds as the full moon slowly makes its way across Earth's shadow, identified as the umbra.

What makes the upcoming Blood Moon so special?

The Blood Moon on May 26 is said to be more remarkable than most as it will be a combination of May's full moon, also called the Flower Moon, according to NASA's SkyCal site.

Otherwise known as a supermoon or a perigeal full moon, this occurs "when the side of the moon facing Earth is fully illuminated by the sun and is at the closest point in its orbit around Earth," said NASA.

The full Flower Moon is also said to be the biggest and brightest full moon of 2021 and will take place close to the moon's perigee in May.

Although May's full Blood Moon will be the only one of its kind for the rest of the year, skywatchers can still look forward to the Half-Blood Moon in November. In the partial lunar eclipse, this sky show will last far longer, at about three hours and 28 minutes.

The next Blood Moon can be expected in 2022 during the month of May. This event is set to turn the moon red for 84 minutes.

Super Blood Wolf Moon Mixtapes can be another way to contact aliens. Pictured: The Super Blood Wolf Moon, a total lunar eclipse on January 21, 2019 as seen from Eindhoven, The Netherlands in Europe. Photo: Nicolas Economou/Getty Images