On the night of Sunday, May 15th, a lunar eclipse will begin in Leelanau at 10:28 pm with total eclipse (when the moon turns red) occurring at 12:11 am. The red cast of the moon at total eclipse has inexplicably become popularized as a “blood moon” in recent years. NASA’s page on viewing the total lunar eclipse gives viewing information & explains why the moon turns red during a lunar eclipse:
The same phenomenon that makes our sky blue and our sunsets red causes the Moon to turn red during a lunar eclipse. It’s called Rayleigh scattering. Light travels in waves, and different colors of light have different physical properties. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and is scattered more easily by particles in Earth’s atmosphere than red light, which has a longer wavelength.
Red light, on the other hand, travels more directly through the atmosphere. When the Sun is overhead, we see blue light throughout the sky. But when the Sun is setting, sunlight must pass through more atmosphere and travel farther before reaching our eyes. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through.
During a lunar eclipse, the Moon turns red because the only sunlight reaching the Moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere. The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear. It’s as if all the world’s sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the Moon.