What causes a super blue blood moon

Super Flower Blood Moon ”- the full moon in May

In cooperation with the Hamburg Planetarium, Prof. Thomas W. Kraupe, astrophysicist and director of the star theater, regularly explains the astronomical highlights of the month to us. In May there will be another "super full moon" - also flowers and a blood-red lunar eclipse.

The moon reaches its full moon position in May just nine hours after being closest to Earth. With that we experience on May 26th the largest full moon of the year - a so-called "super moon". It appears to us around seven percent larger and around 14 percent brighter than an average full moon. The full moons in April and June also took place near the earth - albeit a little further away than the one in May.

However, the difference to April is less than 200 kilometers. By the way, our full moon owes the name "flower moon" to the blissful month. So our sky is adorned with a "super flower moon".

But that's not all: For many people, this "super moon" is sure to be the highlight of the skies of the year. Because at the same time there is a total lunar eclipse, so that in American-speaking countries there is also talk of a "Superflower-Bloodmoon". After all, at such a natural spectacle, a blood-red full moon adorns the firmament. Unfortunately, this "cosmic spectacle" eludes us Europeans, because here the moon sets a few hours before the full moon. People around the Pacific - in North and South America, in Australasia and in East Asia - can look forward to it.

Blood red in the shadow of the earth

A lunar eclipse occurs when our planet moves between the sun and the moon. Our satellite is then in the shadow of the earth. Depending on how much the moon is covered, it is a total or a partial lunar eclipse. Long-wave red light travels through the earth's atmosphere to the moon, while the blue portion of the light is refracted and scattered. The moon shines blood red.

While this celestial event usually lasts for several hours, the total eclipse of this year's "flower moon" can only be seen for about 14 minutes. Because it does not cross the umbra of the earth centrally, but near the northern edge. A real "blood moon" can only be spoken of to a limited extent, since the less darkened northern part of the moon shines in a lighter orange compared to the blood-red southern half of the moon. But even so, the "super flower full moon" offers everyone around the Pacific a spectacular play of colors. It stands beautifully in the constellation Scorpio and even the surrounding Milky Way shows itself for a few minutes despite the full moon.

Unfortunately, this spectacle is long over when the moon is back in our firmament on the evening of May 26th after sunset. But the bright "super flower moon" is also a wonderful sight. Because of its low position, it appears even larger to us than usual, since our eyes can compare it with objects on the horizon.