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Tampa Bay residents can see a total lunar eclipse on Sunday

Weather permitting, Florida residents have a good seat for this weekend’s total eclipse of the moon.
The Super Blue Blood Moon, a lunar eclipse with a supermoon, is partially eclipsed as it sets over the Gulf of Mexico off Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 in 2018. Expect to see a total lunar eclipse starting at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
The Super Blue Blood Moon, a lunar eclipse with a supermoon, is partially eclipsed as it sets over the Gulf of Mexico off Clearwater Beach by Pier 60 in 2018. Expect to see a total lunar eclipse starting at 10:30 p.m. Sunday. [ JIM DAMASKE | Tampa Bay Times (2018) ]
Published May 13|Updated May 13

Florida is the perfect place for skywatchers to see Sunday’s total lunar eclipse, also called a blood moon because of its reddish hue.

“We are in a good location. Florida and the entire eastern half of the U.S. will see the entire duration of the eclipse, from start to finish,” said Craig Joseph, head of the St. Petersburg College Planetarium.

According to Joseph, the eclipse will begin about 10:30 p.m., as the full moon enters the dark part (or umbra) of the Earth’s shadow.

An eclipse of the moon seen from St. Petersburg.
An eclipse of the moon seen from St. Petersburg. [ Craig Joseph, St. Petersburg College ]

“Observers will notice the lower, left-hand side of the full moon begin to darken. Over the next hour, more and more of the moon will disappear, as the Earth’s shadow takes a bigger and bigger ‘bite’ out of the moon,” he said.

By 11:29 p.m., the moon will be completely covered by the Earth’s shadow. This phase of the eclipse is called totality. The moon will remain totally eclipsed until 12:53 a.m. Monday.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse can easily be viewed with the naked eye or through binoculars and small telescopes. As a free service to the public, St. Petersburg College will have telescopes available (weather permitting) from 10 p.m. to midnight Sunday outside the Natural Science building on the Gibbs Campus in St. Petersburg. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to 69th Street and Fifth Avenue N.

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