Skywatch: Eclipsed Harvest Moon to Occur Second Year in a Row
On Sept. 16, the last eclipse of the year will happen. But it is not one of those typical eclipses because a harvest moon will coincide with the penumbral lunar eclipse on Sept. 16.
For the second year in a row, an "eclipsed harvest moon" also known as an eclipsed full moon will occur. The penumbral lunar eclipse will take place during the harvest moon, so that is two celestial events happening on the same night.
In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the three bodies -- Earth, Sun and moon -- are in an alignment. Because of this, Earth will block some of the Sun's rays from reaching the moon, limiting its usual reflective properties. At the same time, the Earth will also cover parts of the moon's surface with its shadow. Experts say that due to the nature of this eclipse, it can be mistaken as a typical full moon.
A harvest full moon is a bit brighter in color as it showcases a bright orange hue. It also lasts longer into the night compared to the normal full moon. This can be attributed to the angle of the moon when it rises at a lower angle in terms of its relation to the horizon, according to Republican Herald.
During a harvest moon, the body is also located at the lower part of the sky. Harvest moon usually occurs when the moon is close to the autumnal equinox; this year, it is due on Sept. 22, so the full moon on Sept. 16 is considered a harvest moon. Because of the moon's low angle on the sky, legends say that it allowed harvests to last all night, thus the name harvest moon.
Although this event is a little less spectacular than a total eclipse, stargazers will have to settle for the penumbral lunar eclipse as it will be the last eclipse of the year. A diagram of the eclipsed harvest moon shows the moon's path as it climbs upwards.
There are eclipse seasons annually when stargazers get to watch eclipses. There are two seasons for eclipses each year; during this time the Sun pass through lunar nodes where an intersection of orbits occurs. Reports say, at least two eclipses is expected to happen per season.
For this year's second eclipse season, the first one occurred on Sept. 1 while the second one will take place on Sept. 16. There will be a noticeable dimming during the penumbral lunar eclipse but it won't be as spectacular as a total eclipse.