Tomorrow evening, May 15th, there will be a total lunar eclipse visible from Chicago. We haven’t been able to view a total lunar eclipse from the city in three years, so it’s definitely an exciting event worth staying up late for.
The eclipse will begin just after 9:30 pm and end at 1:55 am, but the total eclipse phase lasts from 10:29 pm to 11:54 pm, giving you plenty of time to step outside and see.
During the total eclipse phase the moon will appear to be a deep blood red color. This is a result of the change in light reflecting off of the surface of the Moon and the amount of dust in the atmosphere- recent wildfires in the western part of the country might result in a redder color.
How to View the Lunar Eclipse
Lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye, so you don’t need any protective gear like you would during a solar eclipse. Viewing a total lunar eclipse is as easy as stepping outside and looking up at the Moon, you just need a clear, cloud free night.
If you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope this is a great opportunity to view the Moon while it is dimmer, as well as view nearby stars that are harder to see when the Moon is full.
What is a Lunar Eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and Moon all line up and the Moon moves into the shadow of the Earth. Earth, which will be between the Sun and the moon, will block sunlight from the reaching the Moon. The shadow created by Earth is called the umbra and when the full moon passes into this area we see a lunar eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse Parties in Chicago
The Chicago Astronomer will be setting up telescopes near the Adler Planetarium along Solidarity Drive. The club’s crew will be on hand to answer questions about the eclipse and all your astronomy questions.
The Adler Planetarium is hosting a free public observing event from 9pm to midnight on Sunday May 15th. Telescopes will be set up for viewing, and astronomers will be on hand to answer questions and describe each phase of event. More information is available on the Adler website: Here
CIERA and Northwestern is hosting a telescope viewing at the Dearborn Observatory. Telescopes will be set up on the top floor of the south campus parking garage and astronomers from the department will be on hand to answer questions. More information HERE.
For readers further north, GLAS (Geneva Lake Astrophysics and STEAM) is hosting a ticketed event ($5) along Geneva Lake. Astronomers will be on hand to answer questions about the eclipse, the Moon and astronomy questions in general. More information HERE.
Watch the Lunar Eclipse Online
If it’s cloudy in Chicago or you cannot see the lunar eclipse, you can still watch it happen live. NASA will be livestreaming event with astronomers and other experts on hand to describe what is happening as you watch. Tune in to NASA Science Live at 10 pm CT.