A super blood moon combined with the occurrence of a total lunar eclipse will set the stage for a rare celestial event visible from Europe and Africa across to the United States on Sunday.
As North America rotates into orbital darkness on Sunday evening, the perigee full Moon will be at its closest position to Earth this year. This plus the addition of the Moon’s location in the Earth’s shadow will present an eclipse appearing 14% larger than usual and reddish in color.
NASA explained the skyshow will begin at 8:11 p.m. EDT, as the Moon’s sun lite reflection is slowly cast into shadow as it slips behind our planet. The total eclipse will start at 10:11 p.m. and last for 71 minutes, peaking at 10:47 p.m.
Tellus Science Museum, located northwest of Atlanta, will host a Moon event on Sunday evening. Guests will be able to view the eclipse through the Observatory’s 20-inch telescope with the Atlanta Astronomy Club’s own smaller telescopes set up nearby.
“The Moon will be high in the sky and the eclipse will be at a convenient time basically 9 p.m. to midnight,” Tellus’ Astronomy Program Manager David Dundee said on Friday. “This will be the last good total lunar eclipse for the southeast area until January of 2019.”
In Tellus’ Robert E. Bentley Planetarium, there will be three special lunar eclipse shows playing at 8:30, 10:30, and 11:30 p.m. Dundee will lead a hands-on discussion as the event unfolds into what is happening and will answer questions.
“What will be most unique about our event is that we will offer virtual tours of the eclipse in the planetarium – from the perspective of Earth and then from the Moon’s perspective,” Tellus Museum spokesperson Shelly Redd explained on Friday. “We will also offer short tours in the Science in Motion gallery that includes information about our Moon rock.”
Many observatories across the United States and Europe have been preparing for Sunday’s event for many months. NASA states that the next supermoon eclipse will occur in 2033.
“By the way this is also a Harvest Moon, which means the Moon will rise at a more oblique angle to the horizon,” Dundee adds. “This will cause the Moon to appear large as it rises. The large size is an illusion known as the Moon illusion.”
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center near Huntsville, Alabama will present a live video feed and astronomer Q and A of the historic eclipse beginning at 8:00 p.m. On social media, the space agency will take public questions related to the eclipse via the hashtag #askNASA.