Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Total lunar eclipse meets supermoon Sunday night

Last year’s “super blue moon” total lunar eclipse.
Marco Ugarte  
AP Last year’s “super blue moon” total lunar eclipse. Marco Ugarte AP
Cary Marshall | 18 January, 2019, 00:11

It's just some rare cosmic geometry that will turn a big ol' full moon a spooky shade of crimson for a spell. It will be free of the Earth's shadow by 7.49am. (Not that it isn't super already - we love our only natural satellite.) This recently popular but decades-old term is used to describe a full or new moon that is closest to Earth in its orbit, which is the shape of an ellipse, just like Earth's orbit is an ellipse around the sun.

On Sunday night, the air will be cold and the sky will be clear for most of the country as a total lunar eclipse bathes the moon in an eerie blood-red hue. This is known as the blood moon.

Sometimes the eclipsed Moon is a deep red colour, nearly disappearing from view, and sometimes it can be quite bright.

NASA says the darkening will be caused when the earth's shadow totally blocks the sun's light from reflecting off the moon The red color "is due to the way light bends around earth as it moves toward the moon", according to Space Tourism Guide.

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Sunday night, skygazers in the Tampa Bay area will be front-row center for the first total eclipse of the moon in almost three years.

Next is the "Super Moon" - a name given to how large the moon looks when it is at its closest point to our planet. Green and blue don't make it through, scattered away by the particles in the Earth's atmosphere. The last supermoon/lunar eclipse occurred in 1982. Most colors on the spectrum are blocked, but red usually makes it through, effectively projecting all of Earth's sunrises and sunsets onto the moon's surface like a celestial cinema. And yes, he said, the first full moon of the year was reportedly called a "wolf moon" by at least one Native American tribe. The only light wavelength left is red - dimly illuminating the moon with less than one-thousandth of the full moon's normal brightness.

The moon rises the evening of January 30th, 2018 along the St. Petersburg waterfront. You can also plan on around one to five super blood moons each decade, but they only fall in January three times this century (the third and final 21st-century super blood wolf moon barely qualifies, since it falls at the very end of the month on Jan. 31, 2037).

The Super Blood Wolf Moon will be cool to watch literally and figuratively.

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