Viewers are in for a treat on September 27, 2015. The heavens will put on a show you don’t want to miss and a show that hasn’t been seen since 1982, almost three decades ago.
In late September, most of the world, including the Americas, Africa and Europe, will get the chance to see our moon at a 14% larger scale. Introducing the supermoon, a moon that has only occurred five times since 1900-1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982. The next occurrence, yeah, you got it, will be in 2015!
NASA officials said in a newly released video,
“We won’t get this opportunity again until 2033.”
The best way to understand a supermoon is to take a look at the moon’s orbit. Our closest neighbor’s orbit is not circular, but rather elliptical. This causes two effects, the apogee and the perigee. The average distance between the earth and the moon is 239,000 miles. At the apogee, the moon is farther way, at 252,000 miles. At perigee, the moon is the closest distance at 226,000 miles. When a supermoon occurs, the distance from earth to our lunar neighbor is close to perigee, making the moon appear larger than usual, thus, supermoon. Apogee moons are considered minimoons, while perigee moons, supermoons with 30% brighter radiance.
Not only do we get the treat of viewing a supermoon, but we also get the opportunity to see a “Blood Moon Supermoon”, caused by a total lunar eclipse! Whew, that was a mouth full.
What is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse is much more common than a supermoon, with the event happening every two and half years. During the lunar eclipse, the earth is between the sun and moon, causing the strange blood moon effect. The reason the moon doesn’t go completely dark is because it’s hit by the reddish glow of the sun rays, bent by the earth’s atmosphere.
An additional solar eclipse
A couple weeks before the supermoon, the south of Africa and all of Antarctica will get the opportunity to view a solar eclipse, almost like an intro to what’s to come. A solar eclipse is opposite of a lunar eclipse, as the moon has moved between the earth and sun, blotting out the fiery disc from our view.
With that being said, enjoy the view! Take care to wear protective gear when viewing this phenomenon, since the sun’s intense rays can damage the eyes. Happy gazing!