The Only Total Lunar Eclipse of 2021 Is Coming Next Month

You don't need special glasses to view this solar spectacle.

A total lunar eclipse will be visible in less than one month, and it's a sight that you won't want to miss: We'll have to wait until 2024 to see another total solar eclipse again. Want to make sure you catch this? Mark your calendar for Wednesday, May 26, 2021, when the total lunar eclipse will be visible from the western half of North America. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes perfectly in line between the moon and the sun, casting a shadow that makes the moon take on a darker, almost reddish hue. This phenomenon has caused some to refer to these solar eclipses as "blood moons."

Next month's total lunar eclipse will be visible from southern and eastern Asia, South America, Australia, and the western half of North America. The eclipse is expected to begin at 1:46 a.m. PDT and the moon will enter the darkest part of the Earth's shadow around 2:45 a.m. PDT. If you want to catch totality—which is the period when all of the moon's surface is blanketed by the Earth's umbra—look up at the sky between 4:11 a.m. and 4:26 a.m. PDT.

total lunar eclipse blood moon
Carlos Manchego / 500px / Getty Images

There are two types of eclipses: solar and lunar. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the Sun, partially or entirely blocking out its light, according to the Farmers' Almanac. Solar eclipses are visible only in certain areas and require eye protection to be viewed safely (you may recall the phenomenon that was the 2017 solar eclipse). On the other hand, a lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon enters the shadow of Earth, cutting off all or at least some of the sunlight reflected off the moon.

The eclipse will reach totality for less than 15 minutes, so be ready to catch this mesmerizing display when it happens, or else be prepared to wait three long years to see one again.

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