I may be a little early, but in a week, on Monday May 16th 2022, to be precise , there will be a lunar eclipse.
Not very special in itself, as it is a natural event that happens fairly frequent. In this case, however, it is a complete lunar eclipse that - with a bit of luck - will be fully visible from Tenerife. So quite special afterall. To be able to see a full lunar eclipse, several factors are required:
- the sun, earth and moon must be exactly aligned (with the earth in the middle). Normally, the moon reflects light from the sun to the earth. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth's core shadow blocks sunlight toward the moon, thus obscuring the moon.
- the moon must be above the horizon during the eclipse . That will work, because the moon does not set until 7:21 a.m. during this eclipse.
- it should (duh) not be overcast. That is of course not entirely predictable, but the chance of a (mostly) clear sky in Tenerife is quite high.
The conditions are therefore very favorable on Tenerife. You have to set your alarm extra early for this. Or go to bed very late. The full eclipse will begin at 4:29 AM and will peak at 05.11 a.m. As from 5:54 a.m. we will start to see the edge of the moon again. At 07.00 a.m. the eclipse will be completed.
To illustrate, here is a precise representation of the eclipse phases. I don't know yet whether I will be ready with a camera all night, but with a favorable sky I hope to take some nice pictures during the height of the eclipsed moon.
But how can you take pictures of a moon that is blacked out? Good question. The fact is that the moon will still be – vaguely – visible. This is due to a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering . The same phenomenon occurs at sunrise or sunset . Sunlight is deflected by the Earth's atmosphere and gives the moon a soft red glow. This is then called a blood moon . This color can only be seen during a total lunar eclipse, and also depends on the amount of dust in the atmosphere.
It won't be necessary to use eye protection to watch the eclipse. It is, however, practical to have binoculars or even a telescope at hand, although you will also be able to observe the eclipse with the naked eye .
It is advisable to view the eclipse in a place where there is not too much artificial light. You don't have to drive specifically to Mount Teide (although I actually did that myself in the past; which made it extra spectacular), but at least choose a place where it is reasonably dark. Perhaps just lying on the beach, with a blanket, candle and chill-out music? Just an idea…
Stay safe and Hasta Pronto!
PS: I'm currently working on a new chapter for the website. I had hoped to be able to publish it this week, but I'm not quite happy with the layout yet. In any case, keep an eye on the Homepage .
Header photo: Luis Rojas M – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86936337