A spectacular lunar eclipse will coincide with a super moon in a matter of days, an event that won't happen again until 2033.
If you’re a skywatcher, get ready for a spectacular show soon.
Thanks to a rare occurrence in the night sky, you’ll get to see not only a total lunar eclipse, but also a super moon — and you won’t need a telescope to do it, according to a CBS Local report.
This will happen on Sunday, Sept. 27, when the moon will be not only at its closest point in its orbit with our planet — where it will look positively massive as well as incredibly bright, also known as the perigee full moon and commonly called the super moon — but this super moon will soon get blocked out totally by the shadow of the Earth as we slip between the sun and the moon, according to the report.
There will be another super moon on Oct. 27, but it’s going to be a while before you’re going to get to see another super moon along with a total lunar eclipse — almost two decades, in fact, as it will happen in 2033.
A super moon is so called because of its extraordinary size and brightness in the night sky, which is simply an ordinary and regularly occurring phenomenon when the mooon gets to its closest point in its orbit with the Earth.
They happen a few times each year. This year, it will happen three times — this time will be the second, after it happened in August and, as stated, it will happen at the end of October.
The name “super moon” was first dubbed back in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, who noted how close the moon appeared to be to the Earth. And he was right about that: super moons are quite close, and they happen when the moon is at its nearest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, called a perigee. At that point, it’s a scant 360,000 kilometers from us. It is at its apogee when it is as far away from Earth as it can get.
The super moon has long been held in superstition, with some linking it to natural disasters. For example, the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan happened during a super moon, as did Hurricane Katrina. Of course, with super moons happening multiple times per year, odds are it will coincide with some natural disasters every now and then.
Still other superstitions holds that the super moon increases a woman’s fertility. Surprisingly, scientists say that’s not exactly true — a celestial body is not capable of influencing the hormonal cycles of a human woman.
The lunar eclipse is an entirely different story. As pretty much everyone knows, an eclipse happens when the Earth gets completely between the moon and the sun, causing the Earth to cast its shadow over the entire surface of the moon.
But it’s not like a solar eclipse, when the moon gets between the sun and the Earth and completely blocks out the sun. Instead of blocking out the moon, it simple turns a reddish orange color, giving it the nickname “blood moon.”
Also, solar eclipses can typically only be viewed in one part of the world, but a lunar eclipse can be viewed from anywhere in the world where it is night time. The lunar eclipse can last for a few hours, compared to a solar eclipse which onlyt akes place over a few minutes. This is due to the much smaller size of the moon’s shadow compared to the Earth’s, which can easily cover up the moon entirely.
Another key difference with solar eclipses: you can stare right at a blood moon. A solar eclipse should only be viewed with special equipment, or indirectly.
Like the super moon, the blood moon has been the subject of some superstition. Christopher Columbus used this superstition to his advantage when he met the natives of Jamaica back in 1504. He was running low on food and decided to trick the natives into provisioning him and his extremely famished men. Because he knew there would be a total lunar eclipse on March 1, 1504, that would be visible in the Americas on Feb. 29 thanks to the German astronomer Regiomontanus who created the Ephemeris, he asked for a meeting with the leader of the natives named Cacique. Columbus told Cacique that his god was very angry with how his people had treated he and his men, and said that his god would provide a sign of his anger: he would make the moon to appear to be “inflamed with wrath.”
The lunar eclipse happened as predicted, alarming the indigenous people who became very frightening, howling and weeping, bringing their provisions to the ships and begging Columbus to tell his god not to strike them down. Columbus said he would indeed pray for them, timing the eclipse with his hourglass, and told them shortly before the eclipse ended after 48 minutes that all was forgiven.