Waxing Gibbus

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s actually happening is a confluence of three things. The moon will be full and in its closest point in its orbit around the Earth, making it a so-called supermoon, according to Dr. David Wolf, a former NASA astronaut and “extraordinary scientist in residence” for The Children’s Museum.

Supermoons appear 14% larger and 33% brighter than other full moons.


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One Response to Waxing Gibbus

  1. DC says:

    This’ll be the fourth total lunar eclipse in two years, but that doesn’t make it boring. Quite the opposite—this week’s event will be the last in this rare tetrad, and the most dramatic.

    That’s because this lunar eclipse coincides with another astronomical event: a supermoon. That’s what it’s called when the moon’s mostly elliptical orbit brings it closest to Earth’s surface—about 220,000 miles away instead of its average 240,000 miles. During this total lunar eclipse, the moon will appear about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than Earthlings are used to seeing it.

    And yes, it’ll also change color. The Earth doesn’t totally shade the moon; some sunlight trickles around the edges of the planet and gets filtered through the atmosphere, which only lets through light with longer wavelengths. That’s red. This eclipse also happens to coincide with the harvest moon, the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox.

    Taken together, all these astronomical events should make for a pretty special show—and a rare one. The last supermoon eclipse was in 1982, and it won’t happen again until 2033.

    Point is, you’re going to want to watch it. Here’s how: Peak eclipse will be at 2:47 am UT on September 28th—so, 10:47 pm ET on Sunday, September 27th. If you’re in the eastern United States, that’s good news! You should be able to see the eclipse just fine. The moon will start darkening at 8:11 pm Eastern time, and it will start to pass through the Earth’s dark umbral shadow at 9:07 pm. It’ll be completely shaded for about an hour starting around 10 pm (the last total eclipse, on April 4, lasted for a mere five minutes). That means the fully eclipsed moon will just be rising as viewers on the west coast tune in. So, you know, squeeze your magickal rites in appropriately.

    Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.15.17 PMClick to Open Overlay Gallery
    If you’re not in the right zone to see the eclipse yourself, no worries. Plenty of observatories around the world are lining up to help you out. The Slooh Community Observatory network will be livestreaming views of the eclipse from several continents, including a broadcast from Stonehenge, starting at 8 pm Eastern. (We’ll update with embedded video on Sunday if you’d like to watch here.) And NASA TVwill be covering the event starting at 8 pm, too, broadcasting from Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama with live feeds from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and the Fernbank Observatory in Atlanta. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to take part in this awesome event

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