GREEN BANK, W.Va. – On May 15, beginning at 5:30 pm., the Green Bank Observatory will host a free Over the Moon Party to celebrate the upcoming super flower blood moon, otherwise known as a supermoon total lunar eclipse.

Activities will include making impact craters, a space suit, stomp rockets, radar demonstrations, a moon bounce and free ground tours of the Green Bank Telescope, among other things. Food will be available for purchase from the Starlight Café.

Guided activities will end at 9:30 p.m., but visitors are welcome to stay late and watch the lunar eclipse at the observatory. Those who wish to stay are encouraged to bring a lawn chair and a blanket, as well as a telescope or binoculars for those who want a better view of the sky.

The Green Bank Observatory campus (Photo Credit Jay Young)

Those who attend are not required to pre-register, be vaccinated, or wear facemasks during the outdoor activities. All activities will take place outside the Science Center during this event.

This astronomical event will be visible in most of West Virginia on May 15 between 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m., weather permitting, though the start and end of the lunar eclipse’s ‘totality’ is between 11:30 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Such an event hasn’t been seen since last year.

So what exactly is a super flower blood moon? Altogether, the title means that this full moon is a supermoon (SUPER) that was formed in the month of May (FLOWER) and will undergo a total lunar eclipse (BLOOD).

A supermoon occurs when a the moon is at its closest point to Earth during its lunar cycle, giving the moon an enlarged appearance. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks the light from the sun, casting the moon in its shadow and giving it a red hue.

To learn more about the Green Bank Observatory and Science Center, go to greenbankobservatory.org