In the Shadow of a Flower Moon

At dawn on Wednesday, May 26, the Full Moon will step into the Earth’s shadow, inaugurating this year’s eclipse season. Not only will this be the first eclipse of the year, it’s happening when the Moon is nearly as close to the Earth as it can get, giving it the catchy distinction of being the Super Flower Blood Moon.

We won’t see the entire eclipse from Northern Michigan, where I am, but if you’re up early, start watching the Moon in the West around 4:47 am Wednesday ~ you’ll notice a shadow creeping over its edge. This is called the “penumbral stage.” An hour later, partial stage begins.

The Sun will rise in Northern Michigan about 15 minutes after at 6 am, and the Moon will set five minutes after sunrise, so out of view for us, and into Earth’s deeper shadow (check local times to see if this phenomena happens this way in your environment).

So we’ll have five minutes of a partially eclipsed Moon hanging over the western horizon while the Sun is rising in the East, looking on, but not chasing away the shadow.  This sets up a unique opportunity for research in the world of the storyteller’s night sky.

Every month during Full Phase, the Moon blasts us with all of the available celestial light that it has gathered to itself for focusing earthward. This light strikes in and causes what can feel like a hairpin turn in the lunar cycle, if we’re paying attention. All of a sudden, everything that was growing toward a certain destination gets catapulted in a new direction ~ and any kind of stasis gets fragmented.

Now add an eclipse, so that rather than the Moon focusing the celestial light toward Earth to facilitate this turn, it amplifies our shadow instead.  We still have to make that turn, but now we have to do it out of ourselves.

So make ready ahead of time by considering: What allows us to see in the shadow?


We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty. ~ Maya Angelou

Hear this episode on The Storyteller’s Night Sky podcast and Interlochen Public Radio.

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