The most interesting so-called Supermoon in more than 30 years will rise on Sunday night.
The Supermoon – a full moon at perigee (when it is closest to the earth) – will combine with a total lunar eclipse to result in a “blood moon” Sunday night when it rises.
Here are 10 things to know about the September 27, 2015 Supermoon/lunar eclipse:
1) You will hear people refer to Sunday’s Supermoon as a “blood moon.” That’s because the lunar eclipse will give it a copper color (just hope you don’t have clouds to obscure the view.)
2) When a full or new moon makes its closest approach to Earth, that’s a supermoon. Although still about 220,000 miles away, this full moon will look bigger and brighter than usual. In fact, it will be the closest full moon of the year, about 30,000 miles closer than the average distance.
3) This will be the last total lunar eclipse until 2018, and we won’t have combination supermoon/total lunar eclipse until 2033. The combination has happened since 1982.
4) It is called a supermoon because it appears larger – but it really isn’t larger. It is just closer to the earth, so it appears larger, and brighter. In fact, the moon will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter in the sky that evening before it is engulfed by an eclipse.
From NASA: “Because the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle, the moon is sometimes closer to the Earth than at other times during its orbit,” said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “When the moon is farthest away it’s known as apogee, and when it’s closest it’s known as perigee. On Sept. 27, we’re going to have a perigee full moon—the closest full moon of the year.”
At perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth than at apogee. That distance equates to more than once around the circumference of Earth. Its 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.”
5) The full eclipse of the moon will last more than an hour and be visible, weather permitting, from North and South America, Europe, Africa and western Asia.
6) The Supermoon/total lunar eclipse will begin to unfold in the U.S. at 8:11 p.m. EDT on Sunday evening. In Europe, the action will unfold before dawn Monday. No matter where, the preshow will begin two hours earlier.
7) Many astrological observers are looking forward to the unique event, of course, but others in the world are wondering if the end is near. – the end as in, the end of the world.
That’s because some in religious circles like pastor John Hagee say this Supermoon points to a significant world event like an apocalypse or Armageddon – a doomsday scenario.
Hagee, a Christian minister from Texas, suggests that there are “direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.”
“The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.