Everyone is all a-buzz about the rare celestial event about to take place on Sunday, September 27, 2015. Not only will it be a Harvest supermoon, but a total lunar eclipse will also take place that shall color Earth’s closest neighbor a blood red hue.
What is meant by the name Harvest Moon? Moons were traditionally associated with certain seasonal events. One need only look at the Farmer’s Almanac – which has been in continuous publication since 1818 – to get an idea of the old names associated with the different full moons of the year. This weekend’s full moon has the nickname of the Harvest Moon because it is the full moon that occurs nearest to the time of the autumnal equinox.
Meanwhile, lunar eclipses typically occur about three times a year. But what makes this weekend’s a rarity is that it shall be a lunar eclipse of a supermoon.
If you are wondering what a supermoon is, it can be defined as a full moon that occurs when the moon is at lunar perigee. Perigee is the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth. As a result, the moon shall appear to look larger and brighter in the sky, hence the supermoon distinction.
Interestingly enough, the last time a supermoon lunar eclipse took place was back in 1982. To get an even better idea of how rare the occurrence is scientists reveal that there have only been five instances in the 20th century of a supermoon lunar eclipse happening. The one scheduled this Sunday is the first for the 21st century.
As for the reasoning behind the blood moon reference, this is a term attributed to how the moon takes on a reddish glow during a lunar eclipse. The coloration is caused by how light refracts through our planet’s atmosphere.
To make time for this Sunday night’s spectacle, note that the moon shall enter the dark part of the Earth’s shadow at around 9:07 PM local time. Then the total eclipse shall occur around 10:11PM local time as well.
If you’re not able to make the event due to inclement weather, the Slooh Community Observatory – which is a website dedicated to skywatching – shall broadcast the eclipse online. The webcast will be archived for later viewing as well.
Across the globe there are many cities that are hosting events where astronomy buffs can participate in the viewing of this Sunday’s rare celestial occasion. Check local listings for public star party or night-sky viewing events. Of course, there’s always the old-fashioned method of just looking up!
Many – like folklore lovers, historians, and the scientific community – are excited about this super blood moon eclipse on September 27th. After all, the next one won’t take place until 2033.