Whether you are an amateur or professional sky watcher, Sunday night will be a real treat! This total lunar eclipse is not only beautiful, but also extremely interesting. On Sunday night, the moon will enter and later emerge from Earth’s shadow, which allows other cool phenomena.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and the sun are on exact opposite sides of Earth. When this happens, Earth blocks the sunlight that normally reaches the moon. Instead of that sunlight hitting the moon’s surface, Earth's shadow falls on it.
Starting at 9:34 p.m. CST, sky watchers will begin to see what looks like a little bite taken out of the moon. This is the beginning of the partial eclipse. The moon is beginning to enter into the Earth’s shadow.
Starting at 10:41 p.m., the full eclipse will begin. A maximum eclipse will occur at 11:12 p.m. The total eclipse will end at 11:44 p.m.
The animation below shows the times that we here in the Rio Grande Valley will be able to see each of the stages of this total lunar eclipse. Once we reach totality, the lack of moonlight makes it easier to see numerous other celestial objects such as shooting stars, planets, etc.
If you miss this month's total lunar eclipse, you have to wait until May 26, 2021, for the next one in the USA. The next partial lunar eclipse will be this summer, on July 16, but will be visible only in Africa and portions of Asia.