For the first time since 1982, a supermoon lunar eclipse will occur this Sunday evening at 10:11 EDT and last a little bit over an hour.
What is a supermoon eclipse?
Quite simply, a supermoon eclipse occurs when three events occur at the same time. In order to get there the moon needs to be full while participating in a total lunar eclipse and at the lunar perigee when the moon is in its elliptical orbit closest to Earth.
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While the media as been bandying the term “supermoon” around for some time now, the term was originally coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Noelle. At the time he described his “supermoon” as “a new or full Moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.”
It truly is a rare occurrence, that depending on cloud cover, will be visible to over two billion people in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific. There were only five supermoon eclipses in the 20th Century and the next won’t occur until 2033. While 18 years away, don’t forget that Sunday’s will occur 33 years after the last.
In theory, the supermoon will also bleed
Clearly the moon will not literally bleed but could very well become a “blood moon.”
“When it is completely blocked from the sun, the moon will appear a certain hue of red, which is the projection of all the sunsets on the Earth projected onto the face of the moon. It’s going to be quite spectacular and very beautiful,” said NASA’s Noah Petro recently in an interview.
However, this blood moon could go almost unnoticed “if any part of the moon is illuminated in the sun, you can’t really see it,” continued Petro.
Waiting for and watching the supermoon
One of the true delights of a total eclipse of a harvest moon is the ability to view the 72 minute event with the naked eye safely unlike a solar eclipse. This is not to say that if you have access to binoculars or, better yet a telescope, that they should be left in the closet.
On Sunday night at 9:07 EDT the moon will begin to enter the dark part of the Earth’s shadow as it makes its way to a total eclipse. The total eclipse, as mentioned above, will occur at 10:11 EDT and last 12 minutes before it begins to emerge out of the Earth’s shadow. If you’re lucky enough to be located where needed but unlucky enough to have a cloudy sky, there are a number of options for viewing the occurrence online.
Computer users all over the world will be able to watch NASA’s live stream from 8:00 p.m. EDT until roughtly11:30 p.m. EDT broadcast from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., with a live feed from the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California.
If you happen to find yourself in Los Angeles during the confluence of events, we recommend that you make your way down to Griffith Park where pianist Ray Ushikubo will be playing Beethoven sonatas as part of the L.A. Philharmonic’s “Immortal Beethoven” program.
By no means feel obligated to watch the NASA stream as a number of other websites will be streaming the supermoon eclipse from various telescopes around the world.