This weekend, if you are located in the Western Hemisphere, you will have the opportunity to see something amazing – a total eclipse of the moon. If more amazing than that, this eclipse will be during the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the September equinox, and it will be during a Supermoon, which means that the moon will be at its closest point to Earth (perigee) for all of 2015 (some 221,753 miles away). If a total lunar eclipse that occurs on a Supermoon that is also the Harvest Moon isn’t enough for you, this total lunar eclipse is also known as a “blood moon”!
This eclipse is being called a "BLOOD MOON" because during the eclipse, sunlight shining through the ring of Earth's dusty atmosphere is bent, or refracted, toward the red part of the spectrum and cast onto the moon's surface, causing it to look red or reddish colored. Spooky, right? And, if that wasn’t enough for you, having a Blood Moon occur during a Supermoon that is a Harvest Moon, this eclipse is the last eclipse of the tetrad. If you’re wondering what a TETRAD is, it’s four total lunar eclipses spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart. The current tetrad began on April 14-15h, 2014 – some seventeen months ago.
So, if you think about it, on Sunday, you will have the opportunity to literally view a once in a lifetime event – a Supermoon that’s a Harvest Moon that’s a Blood Moon that’s the last of a tetrad! Phew! That’s a mouthful! If that wasn’t reason enough to see the eclipse (assuming you are in the Western Hemisphere), the next Supermoon Lunar Eclipse won’t occur until 2033. With all of these fun terms out of the way, let’s talk about the event itself!
What Is A Total Lunar Eclipse? A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth, and into its shadow (umbra). When the Moon is in this position, the Earth blocks the sun's rays (light) from striking the moon. This alignment is known as "syzygy"; and only occurs the night of a full moon. For visual people, picture this alignment: sun-Earth-moon all in a straight line.
Can a Total Lunar Eclipse Be Viewed With the Naked Eye? Yes! Fun fact: Unlike a Solar Eclipse, a lunar eclipse can be viewed safely with the naked eye, as you are looking away from the sun. Remember, a lunar eclipse features the alignment of Sun-Earth-Moon, with the eye facing toward the moon, whereas a solar eclipse features the alignment of Earth-Moon-SUN, with the eye facing the SUN, which is not safe to view with the naked eye. Therefore, the lunar eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye, and if you can, you should view it, as they are usually quite spectacular.
When Will the Lunar Eclipse of 2015 Occur? The eclipse will start on September 27, 2015, and will end on September 28, 2015 in certain areas.
When Can I see the Lunar Eclipse of 2015? Mr. Eclipse of Mr. Eclipse.com has a great chart and diagram series with times for all of North America and beyond. I highly recommend it, and suggest if you're interested in seeing the eclipse, you use the times on the chart and plan your eclipse watching accordingly. Generally, the eclipse will begin at 9:07 P.M. EDT, 8:07 P.M. CDT, 7:07 P.M. MDT, and 6:07 PDT. The greatest eclipse will occur at 10:47 P.M. EDT, 9:47 P.M. CDT, 8:47 P.M. MDT, and 7:47 P.M. PDT.
How Can I See the Lunar Eclipse of 2015? As with any cosmic phenomena - meteors, comets, and general stargazing, the best way to view the eclipse is to head to any area that is as dark as possible.
This many science terms can only mean one thing – the end of the world?!?!?! Throughout the history of mankind, eclipses, meteor showers, and comets have all been viewed by portions of mankind as portents of disaster or other things. And yet, in 2015, we still are here. I had a great deal of fun talking about these claims in 2014 (click here), but now, I find myself more in accord with CNN, who stated that this eclipse should be viewed with wonder, not an apocalypse.
Happy Stargazing, Eclipse Watching, and more - and if you're worried about the internet rumors out there, remember that we heard many of the same things for the three previous lunar eclipses, the most recent solar eclipse, and pretty much everything else, which has led to nothing other than everyday life!