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[VIDEO] Rare Supermoon and Total Lunar Eclipse Expected Sept. 27

Sep 15, 2015 12:16 PM EDT
One form of the supermoon rising over San Diego in August 2014. This year in late September, we'll have an extra-special event, in which the supermoon coincides with a total lunar eclipse. An entire generation hasn't seen this occur before.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons )

Observers in the U.S., Canada, and Central and South America will be able to witness a rare "supermoon" and total lunar eclipse on Sept. 27. According to NASA, this is the first supermoon in more than thirty years and will mask the moon for over an hour.

"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," Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a news release. "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."

A perigee full moon is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth than an apogee, according to NASA. This significant change in distance will make the moon appear 14 times larger and 30 times brighter. This is why it is called a "supermoon."

The eclipse is expected to begin late in the evening of Sept. 27 in North and South America. However, in Europe, South/East Asia, Africa, the Arctic, and in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, it starts on Sept. 28, and can be observed before the sun rises. This eclipse, sometimes called a Blood Moon for its red glow, will last for about an hour and 12 minutes.

This event, a supermoon combined with a lunar eclipse, is much rarer than the two happening separately, NASA noted. The last one occurred in 1982, and this event is not expected to happen again until 2033.

"That's rare because it's something an entire generation may not have seen," Petro said. However, he added, "The only thing that will happen on Earth during an eclipse is that people will wake up the next morning with neck pain because they spent the night looking up."

Today, these events are sometimes celebrated with viewing parties. However, they were once considered to cause havoc on societies. From hungry demons, to bears, frogs, dogs and wolves, cultures have often associated eclipses with something attacking or stealing the sun.  

Nonetheless, a NASA video explaining the upcoming supermoon can be found online

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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