Astronomers announced that on Sunday evening sky gazers in North and South America, Europe, and West Asia, will be able to witness a rare astronomical event – a Supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, also known as a Blood Moon, happening at the same time.
Researchers noted that the total eclipse is the forth of its kind in the past 17 months, and a total lunar eclipse coinciding with a Supermoon would not happen again until 2033.
The rare event will be visible to almost 1 billion people in the Western hemisphere, 500 million in Asia, and 1.5 billion in the E.U. and Africa. During the eclipse, the full moon will gradually turn red and switch back to normal for about 1 hour and 12 minutes. But this year’s event will be more spectacular because the full moon would look larger on the night sky due to the supermoon slated for Sunday evening.
A Supermoon happens when the moon gets at its closest point to Earth in its trip around our planet. Scientists explained that the moon doesn’t physically grow in size. It just looks larger because it is closer to us.
The Sunday’s event is called a “supermoon eclipse.” During total lunar eclipses, the moon gains a reddish color due to the sunlight filtered by our planet’s atmosphere. The event is not unique or rare, every sunset and sunrise’ reddish color is due to the same mechanism. But ancient civilizations saw in Blood Moons a bad omen.
People in eastern U.S. and Western Europe will have a front view of the show as the moon will be high in the sky when the eclipse begins. But people in Western U.S. will not be able to witness the supermoon eclipse’s initial stage as the event would be already unfurling when the sun sets and the moon rises above the horizon.
During the eclipse, the Earth will stand between the moon and the sun so that its shadow is cast upon the surface of the moon. If an astronaut were to witness the event from the moon he would see the sun blocked by our planet surrounded by a reddish ring of all the planet’s sunrises and sunsets.
The eclipse will also be visible in Alaska, but the moon will rise above the horizon when the eclipse is already ongoing. In Hawaii, sky gazers will not be able to witness the peak of the eclipse, as the moon would ascend in the sky after that moment.
People in Africa and Western Europe will be able to see the see the event in all its splendor on Monday morning just before sunrise.