Sunday, May 23, 2021

May 2021 Lunar Eclipse Clickbait

I have a love/hate relationship with local news outlets capitalizing on astronomical events. Do I want the public to be interested in what's happening in the night sky above them? Absolutely! But I feel like hijacking this fascination with downright misleading headlines and articles is not only dishonest, but actually makes the real thing seem more commonplace. 

Check out these tweets:

tweet about the may 26 lunar eclipse
"How to see it"? Simple, just move to Colorado

tweet about may 2021 lunar eclipse
Yes "mark your calendar" for 7:00am but the moon sets at 6:26am

Most articles I've seen are at least helpful in linking to the end-all-be-all eclipse resource, which has interactive maps and guides for not just the May 26 eclipse, but all future eclipses. 

Here is the eclipse page for Indianapolis that shows everything we have coming up.

The landing page for the May 26 eclipse that has an interactive map where you can search for what to expect in different cities. The helpful icon shows the maximum eclipse visible before the moon sets, and lists times for each phase (and whether the moon is below the horizon). 

map of lunar eclipse with search function

Basically this post is a big fan plug for, it's seriously awesome!

You can also preview the eclipse in different night sky apps, like Stellarium (which is totally free). In this image I was able to generate a simulation of what the eclipse would look like from my exact location in Noblesville. This is what the lunar eclipse will look like in Noblesville on May 26, 2021 at 6:00am:

what the lunar eclipse will look like in Indianapolis on May 26, 2021

This shows at 6:00am the moon will be a little more than 3° above the horizon, and remember that your pinky fingernail held at arm's length is about 1° elevation, so you'd need a very unobstructed view of the horizon. 

So if you are really excited about a partial lunar eclipse low to the horizon on May 26 in Indiana, great! But if you were expecting to gaze up at a blood red moon overhead, now you can sleep in.