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Every Monday morning at 6:49 and 8:49, IPR News Radio looks into the night sky with Mary Stewart Adams, former Program Director and founder of the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, who has been telling stories of the night sky on IPR since 2013.

Storyteller's Night Sky: In the Shadow of the Flower Moon

Map of May 26 Lunar Eclipse.png

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, 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.

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?

Image cutline: Northern Michigan will see a partial eclipse Wednesday morning, May 26, with the unique opportunity of seeing both Sun and eclipsed Moon over the horizon for five minutes around 6 a.m.