Rare ‘Supermoon’ Total Lunar Eclipse This Week

The first “supermoon” lunar eclipse in more than three decades will grace Earth’s skies this month, as will a partial lunar eclipse that Australia will miss but, it is a significant event.

The supermoon total lunar eclipse, which occurs on  Monday 28th Sept (12.51pm exactly) for us here in Australia features a full moon that looks significantly larger and brighter than usual. It will be the first supermoon eclipse since 1982, and the last until 2033, NASA officials said in a this newly released video

Total Lunar Eclipse of April 2015

Photographer Dean Hooper captured this spectacular view of the April 4, 2015 total lunar eclipse from Melbourne, Australia. This image was shared by the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy. Credit: Dean Hooper

Lunar and solar eclipses are both caused by alignments of the moon, Earth and sun. In the case of a lunar eclipse, the Earth is the middle of this line and the moon passes into the planet’s shadow. But the moon doesn’t go completely dark during total eclipses; rather, it often turns a reddish hue because it’s hit by sunlight bent by Earth’s atmosphere. For this reason, total lunar eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons.”

With a solar eclipse, the moon is in the middle of the Earth-moon-sun line and blots out all or part of the solar disc from an Earth observer’s perspective.  Source; Space.Com

Why a Supermoon?


Not an Official Name – Supermoon is not an official astronomical term. It was first coined by an astrologer, Richard Nolle, in 1979. He defined it as ‘a new or a full Moon that occurs when the Moon is at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in its orbit’. It is not clear why he chose the 90% cut off in his definition. There are currently no official rules as to how close or far the Moon must be to qualify as a Supermoon or a Micro Moon. Different outlets use different definitions.

The best time to enjoy a Super Full Moon is after moonrise, when the Moon is just above the horizon, weather permitting. At this position, a Supermoon will look bigger and brighter than when it’s higher up in the sky because you can compare the apparent size of the Supermoon with elements in the landscape – hills, foliage and buildings. This effect is popularly called the Moon illusion.

 Tidal Effects
Tides on Earth are caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon. Tides are caused by the Moon’s gravitational pull.  The tides on Earth are mostly generated by the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other. The Moon’s gravity can cause small ebbs and flows in the continents called land tides or solid Earth tides. These are greatest during the full and new Moons because the Sun and Moon are aligned on the same or opposite sides of the Earth.

Natural Disaster Trigger?
Although the Sun and the Moon’s alignment cause a small increase in tectonic activity, the effects of the Supermoon on Earth are minor. Many scientists have conducted studies and haven’t found anything significant that can link the Super Moon to natural disasters.

According to NASA, the combination of the Moon being at its closest and at full Moon, should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day. There is a small difference in tidal forces exerted by the Moon’s gravitational pull at lunar perigee. However, the difference is too small to overcome the larger forces within the planet.

Viewing Guide For Europe and The Americas

If the sky is clear after sunset this Sunday (September 27, 2015) in the Americas, plan to head outside to see the last total eclipse of the Moon that we’ll get until 2018. This eclipse promises to be a grand one. First, it happens during convenient evening hours for North Americans, with the Moon nicely placed for viewing in the eastern sky. And, it happens when the Moon is very near the “supermoon” point of its orbit, where it’s closest to Earth (called perigee).

The closest lunar perigee of the year occurs just 59 minutes before mid-eclipse. So the Moon will appear 13% larger in diameter than it did when eclipsed last April 4th. That may not be enough of a difference for anyone but dedicated Moon watchers to really notice, but for a spectacle like this, every bit helps.

Easterners can watch every stage of the eclipse in late twilight and darkness, with the Moon (in the constellation Pisces) mostly high in the east. If you’re in the Far West, the first partial stage of the eclipse is already in progress when the Moon rises (due east) right around the time of sunset.

The eclipse is also visible from South America later in the night local time, and from Europe and much of Africa in the early-morning hours of Monday the 28th local time. If your sky is cloudy (or you’re on the other side of the world), you can watch the slow progression of this dramatic event via Sky & Telescope’s live webcast at http://livestream.com/SkyandTelescope/Sept27eclipse

NASA TV to Provide Live Feed of Sunday’s Supermoon Eclipse

Watch NASA’s live stream from 8:00 p.m. until at least 11:30 p.m. EDT broadcast from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., with a live feed from the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, Calif. Mitzi Adams, a NASA solar physicist at Marshall will discuss the eclipse and answer questions from Twitter. To ask a question, use #askNASA.

Throughout human history, lunar eclipses have been viewed with awe and sometimes fear. Today, we know that a total lunar eclipse happens when the full moon passes through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, the umbra. Weather permitting, you can see the supermoon after nightfall, and the eclipse will cast it into shadow beginning at 8:11 p.m. EDT. The total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. EDT, peaking at 10:47 p.m. EDT.


Lunar Eclipse Info-Graphic


A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth, and Moon form a near-perfect line-up in space. The Moon gradually glides into Earth’s shadow, until the Moon’s entire face turns from white to an eerie dim orange or red.

You only need your eyes to see the drama unfold, but if you have binoculars or a backyard telescope, they’ll give a much-enhanced view.

Source and Credit Universe2Go

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