Total Lunar Eclipse of May 15, 2022
Gregory Gross

Total Lunar Eclipse of May 15, 2022

Pretty much all of the lunar eclipses I’ve seen have unfolded in clear viability from beginning to end. Not this time. On May 15, 2022, I saw an unusual eclipse—unusual at least for me. From my perspective in the pacific time zone, the Moon was already in a deep state of eclipse when it rose.

Eclipse In Progress Upon Moonrise

In an effort to see the Moon rise, I located myself at a nearby elementary school field over which there was clear view to the southeast. But the Moon was so dim that there was no hope I could have seen it when it rose at 8:19 pm local time. Making matters worse, sunset was a 8:25 pm, so the sky wasn’t even dark enough to spot the Moon until much later.

First visible appearance of the Moon against a fading dusk sky, 8:57 PM.
The only place where any clouds were in the sky was toward the southeast horizon. But fortunately, they didn’t last long, and they actually gave me a unique photographic opportunity, 9:01 PM.
Stars HR 5762 (upper left) and HR 5756 (right), both in Libra, popped into view as the sky grew darker, 9:06 PM.
Maximum eclipse, 9:11 PM.

The Umbral Eclipse Unwinds

Back home, I set myself up in the backyard to continue observing the unfolding lunar eclipse.

One of the first pictures I took after returning home, 9:39 PM.
Totality slipping away, 9:43 PM.
Last few minutes of totality, 9:49 PM.

The Partial Phase of the Eclipse in Reverse

At 9:53 pm, the total phase of the eclipse ended as the Moon exited the umbra.

The Moon returning to its normally illuminated state, 10:02 PM.
I had two telescopes set up in the backyard, my trusty 4" Orion Maksutov-Cassegrain for visual observing and my 1962 Questar for photography, 10:12 PM. One thing I love about lunar eclipses is that, with the Moon significantly dimmed, stars that are normally washed out by a full Moon suddenly pop into view.
The Moon about halfway illuminated, 10:27 PM.
The umbra slipping away, 10:51 PM.

The Penumbral Eclipse in Reverse

At 10:55 pm, the partial phase of the eclipse ended, and the far more subtle penumbra took over.

The penumbra was still visible photographically not long after this phase of the eclipse began, 11:00 PM.
The penumbra slipping away, 11:06 PM.
By this point, the penumbra is barely visible on the upper right, 11:22 PM.
At 11:50 PM, when I took this photo, the penumbral eclipse ended, and the Moon returned to a fully-illuminated disk.