The full Moon has captivated humans for centuries, and if you saw this weekend’s “Flower Moon” rise then you’ll instantly know why.
Perhaps the easiest and most impressive object to see in the night sky with naked eyes, only on one evening of each 29-day period—a “moon-th”—does our natural satellite in space rise in the east at dusk and shine brightly all night long before setting in the west at dawn.
So to see and photograph this 2,160 miles diameter rock demands exquisite timing, particularly as it appears on the horizon—a brief time when it shines with a subtle orange glow.
It means being in the right place at the right time, having plenty of patience and, in the case of photography, being able to work quickly.
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Take a journey around the world and see the stunning photos of this week’s full “Flower Moon” as it rose into serene landscapes and urban skylines alike and, from some parts of the globe, was partly eclipsed by the Earth.
From across the globe, May’s full Moon—termed the “Flower Moon” in North America, but also known as the “Hare Moon,” “Corn Planting Moon and “Milk Moon”—rose in the east around sunset, as usual.
However, from some parts of the world—notably eastern Europe and all of Africa, Asia, Australia and parts of the Pacific—saw a penumbral eclipse of the Moon as the full “Flower Moon” moved through Earth’s fuzzy outer shadow (its penumbra) for a few hours.
What observers noticed was little more than a drop in the full Moon’s brightness and some subtle shading on its surface. However, as penumbral lunar eclipses go this was particularly deep.
It was actually the deepest penumbral eclipse until Sept. 29, 2042, according to Timeanddate.com, and as close to being a partial lunar eclipse as possible.
That’s because although it moved only through Earth’s penumbra, it almost grazed the inner, darker umbra.
The next eclipse of the Moon will occur on May 5/6, 2023 when the edge of the Moon will dip into Earth’s umbra to cause a slight partial lunar eclipse. North America will once again miss out, though all of Europe will get a good view.
The next total lunar eclipse—also known as a “Blood Moon”—when the whole of the Moon enters Earth’s umbra, won’t occur until March 13/14, 2025.
Reddish full Moons might be rare, but orange is commonly seen during all moonrises, eclipsed or not.
That’s because short-wavelength light, such as blue and green, strikes molecules in Earth’s atmosphere and gets scattered while longer wavelength light, such as red and orange, travel through Earth’s atmosphere more easily, so are the dominant colors reaching the viewer’s eyes.
When the Moon is close to the horizon it also appears larger than when it’s higher in the sky. This is called the “moon illusion” and scientists still don’t fully understand it. It’s certainly go something to do with context—go look at the Moon rise next to a building and it will seem larger than it is. Once it’s high in a black sky it looks tiny.
The shots here of a giant-looking Moon use a special technique that has the photographer identify a foreground object—such as people, a building or another landmark—and then retreat a large distance.
They then use a very large and long telephoto lens to get a close-up, which in turn makes the background—the Moon—look enormous. Setting-up this kind of shot demands a lot of planning.
The next full Moon will be the “Strawberry Moon,” which will rise on June 4, 2023.