Metro Vancouver sky-watchers should mark their calendars for the first of two total lunar eclipses this year.
The full moon, known as the full "flower moon," will take place on Sunday, May 15, reaching its fullest point at 9:15 a.m., according to timeanddate.com.
But the full moon won't be the highlight of the night. As the moon reaches its fullest size, the celestial body will move under Earth's shadow, blocking sunlight from reaching its surface.
The lunar eclipse will commence on Sunday at 8:44 p.m., with the eclipse reaching its maximum point at 9:11 p.m.; it will end at 11:50 a.m. In other words, Vancouverites will see the maximum eclipse only a few minutes before the moon will be at its fullest point in local skies.
Timeanddate.com shares a video of when the lunar eclipse will take place in the city, too.
Why is it called a "flower moon"?
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac: "The May full Moon marked a time of increasing fertility, with temperatures warm enough for safely bearing young, a near end to late frosts, and plants in bloom." They note that Native peoples would give distinctive names to each reoccurring full moon to mark the change of seasons. As such, many of these names arose when Native Americans first interacted with colonists.
With that being said, Space.com notes that the April full moon also goes by other names including the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Full Fish Moon.
Lunar eclipse gazing in Vancouver
Marley Leacock, an astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, tells Vancouver Is Awesome that you don't need any special equipment to view the lunar eclipse in all its celestial glory -- but your location is important.
For the lunar eclipse, people will want a clear view of the southeast sky and the southeast horizon, explains the astronomer. The eclipse will begin when the moon is still below the horizon, so when it rises around 9 p.m., it will already be slightly red.
"It will also be very dim, so it will be difficult to see," she explains. "If the weather holds out, we will see the ending of the eclipse as the Moon moves out of Earth's shadow and higher into the sky.
The partial eclipse will end around 10:55 p.m., "with the Moon leaving the Earth's penumbra by about 11:50," adds Leacock.
"The penumbra is difficult to see, as it just makes the face of the Moon look a little darker, whereas the Moon looks like it has a bite out of it during the partial eclipse, so it will look like the event has ended by 10:55 p.m."
And why is it called a blood moon?
"It is considered a blood moon because eclipses can turn a reddish-orange colour. That's from the light hitting our atmosphere and scattering. The blue light gets scattered out really quickly and what remains is the red and the orange light and that's what turns the moon red," she explained.