This Sunday, Sept. 27, there will be a total lunar eclipse. What may make this total lunar eclipse spectacular is that this total lunar eclipse will occur during a Super Moon. Super Moons are full moons that occur when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit around the earth. Perigee is the term for the closest point to the earth and Apogee is the farthest point from the earth.
Because it’s so close to Earth, a Super Full Moon looks about seven percent bigger than an average Full Moon. “Micro Moons” are the full moons that occur when the earth and moon are the furthest apart (Apogee). When compared to a Micro Moon, a Super Moon looks about 12-14 percent larger. This “Super Moon” aspect is what could make this total lunar eclipse the largest in 18 years. Another Super Moon lunar eclipse this large will not happen until 2033.
The best time to enjoy a Super Full Moon is JUST after moonrise, when the moon is barely above the horizon. At this position, a Super Moon will look bigger and brighter than when it’s higher up in the sky because you can compare the apparent size of the Super Moon with the surrounding landscape – hills, trees and buildings.
Additionally the big, full moon will be low on the horizon as the sun sets, and illuminates the moon. When objects are low on the horizon, the light emitted goes through lots of atmosphere. This is what gives sunrises and sunsets their vibrant colors. The same is true for moonrises and moonsets. The moonlight Sunday may be traveling through lots of moisture or dust low on the horizon. Combine that will the setting sun and the full moon may look red as it rises.
Partial Eclipses of the moon happen when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned to form an almost straight line.
During a total lunar eclipse, the sun, Earth and moon form a straight line. The sun is behind the Earth, so the sun’s light casts the Earth’s shadow on the moon. This shadow covers the entire moon and causes a total lunar eclipse.
Sunday as the moon rises in the east the sun will be setting in the west. The moon does not have its own light,
but shines because its surface reflects the sun’s rays. After the sun sets, the moon will continue to rise higher in the sky, getting brighter and brighter. When the lunar eclipse starts, high in the sky, the moon will have a red or copper tone to it. This will be the projection of all the sunsets on Earth at that time being cast on the moon. So the moon will turn red again.
If we have clear skies, it should be a memorable night. Another Super Moon lunar eclipse this large, will not happen until 2033.
Reach Sue Hokanson at firstname.lastname@example.org