What, another Blood Red Moon? Yes, it’s occurring the night of September 27-28, 2015!
And doesn’t it seem like we have one of these supposedly “rare” occurrences every few months? Yes, and that’s because this is the fourth one in the last two years.
But this is it, folks, until 2033. Yes, there’s not going to be another Blood Red Moon eclipse like this for another 18 years.
So let’s enjoy this one, if possible!
The Moon, and its partners, the Earth and the Sun have saved the best of this rare “tetrad” of lunar eclipses for last.
That’s because this lunar eclipse involves another rare astronomical event: the Supermoon!
A Supermoon occurs when the Moon’s mostly elliptical orbit brings it closest to Earth’s surface—about 220,000 miles away instead of its average 240,000 miles. So, this means the Moon will appear about 14 percent larger, and nearly 30 percent brighter, than it normally does.
So, late in the evening on September 27 in the Western Hemisphere (in the wee hours of September 28 in the western bits of the Eastern Hemisphere that will see it), when the Earth advances precisely between the Sun and the Moon, it will cast a giant shadow onto the Moon that will create a huge rusty red shadow.
How is the red shadow created? The Earth doesn’t totally shade the moon; some sunlight seeps in from around the edges of the shadow; as the shadow gets filtered through the atmosphere, only light with longer wavelengths gets through. Those are the red-tinged wavelengths of light. Hence, the shadow casts an eerie red glow on our gleaming moon. The effect will be so much more pronounced with the Supermoon.
The last time all these elements came together was 1982, so it indeed is a rare phenomenon. (This Supermoon also coincides with the annual Harvest Moon, which is the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox. No doubt, Pagans will rejoice!)
This eclipse will also be a L-O-N-G one: Total for nearly an hour in peak locations! For comparison’s sake, the one last April 4 lasted just five minutes!
Programming note: Peak eclipse will be at 2:47 am UTC on September 28th—so, that’s 10:47 pm EDT on Sunday, September 27. If you’re in the eastern United States, you will be in perfect position to see it all! The moon will start darkening at 8:11 pm EDT, and it will start to pass through the Earth’s dark umbral shadow at 9:07 pm. It’ll be completely shaded for about an hour starting around 10 pm.
On America’s West Coast, the Moon will rise fully eclipsed! What a sight!
Astronomers say this is the last so-called “Blood Red Moon” eclipse until 2033. Hope the skies are clear for this one. The next one probably won’t be in my lifetime.
September 25, 2015