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Everything you need to know about Sunday’s supermoon lunar eclipse
For just over an hour this Sunday evening, the moon is going to look awesome.
As Earth and the Sun slot into rare formation, the sky will be lit up by a lunar eclipse that will render the moon bigger, brighter and with a resplendent red hue.
Depending on who you ask, the event is called the supermoon, super blood moon, harvest moon or the supermoon lunar eclipse – and it’s happening for the first time in 30 years. You probably have questions; we’ll try and answer them.
Why so many names?
This Sunday’s lunar alignment is actually the combination of two things happening at once – hence why it’s so rare.
First, there’s the supermoon, which happens everytime a full moon occurs at its closest point to Earth. As a result, the moon appears around 14% larger during a supermoon and there are usually between four and six of them a year – so not especially notable in and of itself.
What makes Sunday so special, then, is that the supermoon is set to coincide with a lunar eclipse. This means that the Earth will fall into position precisely between the Sun and moon, creating a shadowy red glow. This can happen between zero and three times a year, and the two events have combined only five times since 1900.
When was the last supermoon lunar eclipse?
The last time this happened was 1982, so anyone in their 20s won’t have seen one before, while anyone in their 30s will probably have been too young to remember it.
Miss this one, and you’ll have to wait until 2033 to get another chance, so clear your Sunday night plans and set your alarms.
Okay, okay. How do I see it?
This one’s easy, you won’t need binoculars or a telescope, so just find a nice clear spot and look up. Admittedly, this will be more convenient for some than for others.
Although the supermoon lunar eclipse will be visible from the Americas, Europe and Africa, time zones aren’t always always kind. First, the good news – if you live on the East Coast of America this is going to be a piece of cake. The total eclipse is set to begin at 10.11pm EDT, and is set to last about one hour and 12 minutes.
It also falls kindly for those on CDT, MDT and PDT times, but is less favorable for GMT. Here’s what the schedule looks like;
Oh, and if it’s cloudy where you are, NASA television will be providing a full live stream, so you can still hook it up to a big screen and enjoy the view.
I read online that the world might end. Will it?
As much as we love the internet, it’s best not to believe everything you read. Rest assured, the supermoon lunar eclipse is about as dangerous as the millennium bug or the Mayan apocalypse of 2012.
There are a number of different doomsday theories pertaining to the supermoon lunar eclipse – ranging from religious prophecies to an unexplained ‘mass antelope death‘. It’s hardly surprising, if we belonged to ancient civilization and looked up to see a blood red moon, we’d probably jump to all sorts of conclusions.
Thankfully, now we have science, and we’ll be taking Nasa for its word as we enjoy Sunday’s supermoon eclipse in all its glowing red glory.