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View total lunar eclipse of ‘flower moon’ on May 15

Rooftop astronomers to provide close-up view of moon entering Earth’s shadow
The appearance of the Moon during the May 2022 total lunar eclipse. Image from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

A total lunar eclipse of the flower moon, the full moon of May, will take place Sunday, May 15. Get a close-up view of the bright full moon gradually turning dark red at a special viewing event on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. 

Weather permitting, the free public event will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight on the top level of the South Campus Parking Garage, 1847 Campus Drive. The eclipse begins at 8:32 p.m. May 15, reaches maximum coverage at 11:11 pm and ends at 1:50 a.m. May 16. The moon will be totally eclipsed for an hour and 24 minutes, from 10:29 to 11:53 p.m.

Several large telescopes will be set up for visitors. Faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate and undergraduate students from Northwestern’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) will be on hand to answer questions and operate the telescopes.

Total lunar eclipses are fairly rare, occurring when the entire moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. Over the course of a few hours, the moon changes from a bright full moon to a dark reddish or coppery-colored moon. 

“This is a chance to witness how the Earth, moon and sun are all connected,” said Michael Smutko, director of the Dearborn Observatory and professor of instruction in physics and astronomy in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “The three must be aligned to form a straight line, so the Earth’s shadow completely envelops the moon, for a total lunar eclipse.”

If you miss this month’s lunar eclipse, you will have another opportunity later this year. The next total lunar eclipse viewable from Chicago in its entirety will be on Nov. 8.

Dearborn Observatory and CIERA regularly host a variety of outreach events connecting the public to astronomical events and astronomers. 

Up-to-date information on the May 15 viewing event can be found on the Northwestern events calendar and Facebook. Parking will be free in the South Campus Parking Garage and other Northwestern parking lots.