The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

It hasn’t hap­pened in 32 years, and won’t for another 18 years: Sun­day evening, a to­tal lu­nar eclipse will co­in­cide with a “Su­per­moon.”

A lu­nar eclipse oc­curs when the Earth is be­tween the full moon and the sun. The Earth’s shadow cov­ers the moon, which of­ten has a red color, hence the “blood” moon nick­name.

Although it’s com­pletely in the shadow of Earth, a bit of red­dish sun­light still reaches the moon.

“That red light shin­ing onto the moon is sun­light that has skimmed and bent through Earth’s at­mos­phere: that is, from all the sun­rises and sun­sets that ring the world at any given mo­ment,” ac­cord­ing to Alan MacRobert of Sky and Te­le­scope mag­a­zine.

The to­tal eclipse will start at 10:11 p.m. EDT (7:11 p.m. PDT) Sun­day evening and will last one hour and 12 min­utes. It will be vis­i­ble across North and South Amer­ica, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pa­cific, NASA said. Weather per­mit­ting, folks in the eastern half of North Amer­ica can watch ev­ery stage of the eclipse, from be­gin­ning to end of the par­tial phases, with the moon mostly high in the sky, Sky and Te­le­scope re­ports. In the West, the first par­tial stage of the eclipse will al­ready be in progress when the moon rises in the east around sunset. You don’t need spe­cial glasses or giz­mos to view it, un­like a so­lar eclipse, so feel free to stare di­rectly at the moon. Binoc­u­lars or a te­le­scope would im­prove the view.

And what does a Su­per­moon mean? It just means the moon looks a bit big­ger than usual since its a bit closer to the Earth than usual. “Be­cause the or­bit of the moon is not a per­fect cir­cle, the moon is some­times closer to the Earth than at other times dur­ing its or­bit,” NASA sci­en­tist Noah Petro said in a state­ment.

“There’s no phys­i­cal dif­fer­ence in the moon,” Petro added. “It just ap­pears slightly big­ger in the sky. It’s not dra­matic, but it does look larger.”

It’s about 14% larger than nor­mal, NASA re­ports. What is un­com­mon is for a to­tal lu­nar eclipse to co­in­cide with a Su­per­moon. There have been just five such events since 1900 (in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982), NASA said.

This is the last to­tal lu­nar eclipse vis­i­ble any­where on Earth un­til 2018, ac­cord­ing to Sky and Te­le­scope. Amer­i­cans will ac­tu­ally see a to­tal so­lar eclipse (in Aug. 2017) be­fore the next to­tal lu­nar eclipse.


Su­per­moon, su­per seren­ity.

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