How to watch the blood moon, lunar eclipse on Sunday

By @vitthernandez on
Lunar Eclipse
A shadow falls on the moon after a total lunar eclipse, near a swan statue in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok April 4, 2015. Reuters/Chaiwat Suprasom

A rare astronomical event takes place on Sunday, Sept 27, when the supermoon – or blood moon – coincides with a lunar eclipse. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, the event would be seen in the US and many parts of the world for over an hour while the total lunar eclipse covers the moon’s larger-than-life face.

On one hand, Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, explains that the moon does not orbit in a perfect circle. For Sunday, the moon would be closer to the Earth than other times of its orbit, reports

It is known as a perigree full moon which is when it is closest to the Earth, as opposed to an apogee moon when it is farthest. That would be about 31,000 miles closer to Earth. “It’s looming proximity makes the moon appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter in the sky than an apogee full moon, which sparked the term ‘supermoon,’”  Petro goes on.

He emphasises that the moon does not change physically during this event. But it appears slightly larger in the sky. During a lunar eclipse, on the other hand, the Earth’s shadow swallows up the moon as the planet comes between the moon and the sun.

The explanation stresses that lunar eclipses, which happen at least two times a year, are predictable. However, some cultures such as the Incans and Mesopotamians, thought the eclipses were random, frightening these groups.

But the fear continues, this time among some religious groups linking the blood moon to end-time prophecies because of the mention of a blood moon in Revelations, the last book of the Christian bible. Linked with the apocalyptic predictions are natural phenomenon such as meteor hits and earthquakes, seen by some as omens of the last day.

For the majority who are not cowered by fear and want to witness the lunar eclipse and blood moon, various Web sites offer tips on how to watch this event.

According to Weathernetwork, it is possible to watch the entire eclipse beginning when it slips into the Earth’s penumbra until it exits on the other side, from Manitoba to Atlantic Canada. That’s because the moon only rises after the eclipse has started in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The moon will rise at around 6:47 pm in Saskatchewan and northward, only 20 minutes before the moon enters the umbra. 

For Australians, the Australianetwork says the supermoon would start to blur slightly at 8:11 pm EDT, while the total eclipse begins at 10:11 pm. It would last for 72 minutes.

Sunday marks the completion of the lunar tetrad, or four total lunar eclipses in a row. However, for Jews, the tetrad is not just a lunar event but also a political one.

Since 1900, there were five supermoon eclipses in 1910, 1928. 1946, 1964 and 1982. The next one is on 2033.

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