Solstice Lunar Eclipse (NASA, 12/21/10) NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
Supermoon? Blood moon? Eclipse? It's only a few nights away- Sunday, September 27th, 2015. You'll want to try to see it because it won't happen again for another 18 years...but what does it all mean and how can you view it?
This video from NASA very succinctly and clearly shows what it means to have a "Supermoon" and a lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipses are a great opportunity for star gazing. They are more "user friendly" than solar eclipses for several reasons. One is that you don't need protective eye gear to enjoy one! Another is that they are far more common because the shadow the Earth casts on the moon is much larger than the shadow the moon casts on the sun. This will be the fourth lunar eclipse in the past 2 years.
"Pink" Full Moon and Partial Lunar Eclipse on April 25, 2013. image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video
Ok, we've got the supermoon and eclipse portion figured out- blood moon? That sounds ominous! The term, as far as science is concerned, has to do with the orange-red color of the moon during an eclipse. There are religious beliefs about the "blood moon" and its connotations, but we won't touch upon those here.
The moon turns this reddish color for the same reason we see these colors in sunsets and sunrises. The Earth's atmosphere works like a lens with a filter on it. It bends the red wavelengths of light and scatters the blue wavelengths.
Get Ready for the Solstice Lunar Eclipse! (NASA, 12/19/10)
I hope you can get out and view at least part of the eclipse on Sunday, September 27th. For all sorts of information on when to look, check out this article from Earth Sky. The total eclipse begins at 2:11 Universal Time. You can convert UT to your time zone here.
H.A. Rey's The Stars
H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations.
If you'd like to go high tech another excellent tool for orienting yourself to the night sky is Google's Sky Map app. With the app you simply hold your phone or device up toward the sky and it shows what you should be seeing in that location. However, I'd urge you to turn off your gadgets once you know what you're looking at and just enjoy!
If you like astronomy topics you might want to read my other posts that involve the sky and beyond by following this link.
- EarthSky: Super Blood Moon Eclipse on Night of September 27-28
- Discovery: Stunning Supermoon Eclipse is Coming
- Space: 'Blood Moons' Explained: What Causes a Lunar Eclipse Tetrad
- Share it! Science News: Total Lunar Eclipse-October 8th, 2014
- Share it! Science News: Solar Eclipse, Super Moon- Spring 2015 Starts with Excitement