The supermoon total lunar eclipse beckons
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- 01-09-15, 06:01 PM #1
The supermoon total lunar eclipse beckons
Behold! The supermoon total lunar eclipse beckons: Rare event will give the night sky an eerie glow later this month | Daily Mail Online
Behold! The supermoon total lunar eclipse beckons: Rare event will give the night sky an eerie glow later this month
- 'Supermoon' lunar eclipse will occur on September 28
- Will be visible to observers in North and South America as well as Africa, western Asia, the eastern Pacific Ocean region and Europe
- They will see a moon that is extra-large and bright, with a striking red tinge
- It will be the first 'supermoon’ lunar eclipse since 1982 and there won’t be another until 2033, according to Nasa
The first ‘supermoon’ lunar eclipse in over 30 years will grace our skies later this month.
Depending on weather conditions on September 28, lucky viewers will see a full moon that looks larger and brighter than usual, with a red tinge.
It will be first ‘supermoon’ lunar eclipse since 1982 and there won’t be another until 2033, according to Nasa.
The celestial event will be visible to observers in North and South America as well as Africa, western Asia, the eastern Pacific Ocean region and Europe.
In a video explaining what to expect Nasa says: ‘First take a full moon, now add the closest approach the moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, which results in it looking up to 14 per cent larger in diameter - that's a supermoon.
‘Combine this with a lunar eclipse, when the moon passes behind the Earth into its shadow, giving it a red tint - now you have a super moon lunar eclipse.’
The moon looks larger at times because of the moon’s orbit around our planet is elliptical, so while its average distance from the Earth is 239,000 miles (384,600 kilometres) it can get as close as 226,000 miles (363,700 km) at the closest point, or perigee, Space.com explained.
When a supermoon is seen at the perigee, it looks up to 14 per cent larger from Earth and up to 30 times brighter when the moon is at its furthest from the Earth – a point known as the apogee.
‘This is a special event because it doesn’t happen very often,’ Nasa explained.
Since 1900 there have only been five ‘supermoon’ lunar eclipses – in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982.
Standard lunar eclipses are more common and it’s thought that one can be seen from some point on the Earth every two-and-a-half years.
Lunar eclipses are causes when the Earth crosses between the sun and the moon, which passes into our planet’s shadow.
However, it doesn’t go completely dark or disappear from view completely, but instead turns red.
This is because of light bending in the Earth’s atmosphere and is the reason why lunar eclipses are sometimes known as ‘blood moons’.
It's not often that we get a chance to see our planet's shadow, but a lunar eclipse gives us a fleeting glimpse. During these rare events, the full moon rapidly darkens and then glows red.
At the eclipse's peak the moon entered the Earth's full shadow, the umbra. At this stage, the Earth's atmosphere scattered the sun's red visible light - the same process that turns the sky red at sunset.
As a result, the red light reflected off the moon's surface, casting a reddish rust hue over it.
'It's a projection of all the Earth's sunsets and sunrises onto the moon,' Noah Petro, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter deputy project scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre
'It's a very subtle effect, and if any part of the moon is illuminated in the sun, you can't really see it.'
'They don't happen all the time, and the sky has to be clear. It really gives you a chance to look at the moon changing.'
However, some believe the eclipse has larger significance.
The last 'blood moon' occurred over Easter and the 'supermoon' lunar eclipse will form the fourth event in a 'Tetrad,' which is believed to mark the the beginning of significant events - even the the end of the world - in some religions.
The next Tetrad cycle won't occur until 2032.
Some Christians are concerned that the celestial event could mark the start of terrible events, based on a passage from the Bible that says: 'The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes.'
John Hagee, a Christian pastor who has written a book on the Tetrad called 'Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change' told the Daily Express that the April blood moon marked the dawn of a 'hugely significant event' for the world.
'This is not something that some religious think tank has put together,' the notoriously outspoken church founder said.
The Tetrad will end on September 28, 2015.
While they were a relatively frequent occurrence in the 21st century, with nine sets in total, this has not always been the case. From 1600 to 1900, for example, there were none at all.
The Book of Joel in the King James Bible prophesied about the blood moons and the end of the world: 'The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes.'
According to Mr Hagee, each time the Tetrad has happened during that time, there has been a significant religious event accompanied with it.
In 1493, the first Tetrad saw the expulsion of Jews by the Catholic Spanish Inquisition.
The second happened in 1949, right after the State of Israel was founded and the most recent one - in 1967 - happened during the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis.
In this Tetrad, the first of the blood moons occurred in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The second, on October 8 2014, occured during the Feast of the Tabernacle and the third fell on April 4, 2015, also during Passover.
The final one happens on September 28, 2015, which is also during the Feast of the Tabernacles, he said.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A 'BLOOD RED' LUNAR ECLIPSE
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in the shadow of Earth. This is an area known as the umbra, where light from the sun is blocked by our planet.
The light refracts differently in the atmosphere and, as it hits the moon, it appears red.
This gives rise to its ‘blood red’ appearance during a total eclipse, when the entire moon is in shadow. If it skirts the shadow, known as a partial or penumbral eclipse, the effect is less dramatic.
When the moon first enters the Earth's partial shadow, know as the penumbra, a dark shadow begins to creep across the moon.
This gives the illusion that the moon is changing phases in a matter of minutes instead of weeks.
At the eclipse's peak, the moon enters the Earth's full shadow; the umbra.
At this stage, the Earth's atmosphere scatters the sun's red visible light; the same process that turns the sky red at sunset.
As a result, the red light reflects off the moon's surface, casting a reddish rust hue over it.
Comment: For any of you who purchased a sunbed in anticipation of a lovely hot summer, this would be a great time to use it.