See the Super Flower Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse Up-close Through a Virtual Telescope

Skywatchers will be able to see the first lunar eclipse of the year this week as the super flower blood moon crosses the sky in the early hours of Wednesday EDT.

It won't be visible everywhere, though, and those who live in eastern parts of the U.S. may not see much of anything because the moon will already have set.

Fortunately for those who cannot see it in their own patch of sky, the event will be streamed live on the internet.

The Virtual Telescope Project, based in Italy, is offering live footage of the lunar eclipse in a stream starting 6:00 a.m. EDT, May 26. It can be viewed on the Virtual Telescope Project's WebTV page here.

The team have also partnered with several astrophotographers based mostly in the U.S. and Australia to offer different views of the event.

The total eclipse itself will only be short, lasting just 14 minutes and 30 seconds, because this is the amount of time in which the moon will be fully covered by Earth's shadow.

However, the eclipse event itself is going to last between around 4:45 a.m. EDT to 9:50 a.m. EDT because these mark the times when the moon will start to enter Earth's penumbra—outer shadow—and fully leave it.

In a blog post, Gianluca Masi, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project, said the super flower blood moon this week will be "somewhat unique".

This is because as well as being a blood moon, it is also a supermoon, as its name suggests.

The name "blood moon" refers to the fact that the moon takes on a reddish color during a lunar eclipse. This happens because, in a lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks out the light from the sun that would normally give the moon its usual white colour.

Some sunlight does still reach the moon, but it is heavily filtered through Earth's atmosphere first, giving it a red color.

A supermoon, meanwhile, occurs when a full moon is at its closest point to Earth during its orbit. This happens because the moon's orbit around our planet is shaped like an oval, so sometimes the moon comes particularly close to us.

Not every supermoon is a blood moon, so the upcoming event has caused some interest.

Finally, the "flower" part of the super flower blood moon's name comes from the fact that the full moon in May is always called the "flower moon," based on traditional names listed by The Old Farmer's Almanac.

These names have been passed down through generations from Native American, Colonial American, or other traditional North American sources.

Masi and the Virtual Telescope Team will also host another livestream starting at 3 p.m. EDT May 26 to show the supermoon rising above the skyline of Rome, Italy.

While this week's eclipse will only last a moment, full moons can appear full for upwards of three days, according to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Blood moon
The moon is given a reddish color by the total lunar eclipse of October 2014 in this image taken in Los Angeles, California. During a lunar eclipse the moon passes behind the Earth's shadow. David McNew/Getty