The Moon In The News: NASA Sheds Light On Supermoon Eclipse

NASA Scientist Sheds Light on Rare Sept. 27 Supermoon Eclipse

Coming soon for the first time in more than 30 years: you’ll be able to witness a supermoon in combination with a lunar eclipse.

Late on Sept. 27, 2015, in the U.S. and much of the world, a total lunar eclipse will mask the moon’s larger-than-life face for more than an hour.

But what is this behemoth of the night sky? Not a bird, not a plane, it’s a supermoon! Although this incarnation of the moon comes around only once every year, it’s not as mysterious as you might think.

“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.”

“There’s no physical difference in the moon,” Petro said. “It just appears slightly bigger in the sky. It’s not dramatic, but it does look larger.”

A lunar eclipse typically puts on an even greater show. For more than an hour, Earth’s shadow swallows up the moon as the planet comes between the sun and the moon. Lunar eclipses typically occur at least twice a year, and 228 will occur in the 21st century alone. While people such as the Incans and Mesopotamians historically viewed lunar eclipses as random and frightening occurrences, they’re actually quite predictable.

Scientists at Goddard have predicted eclipses a thousand years into the future. Petro said it’s just a matter of knowing where Earth, the sun and the moon are at a given point in time.

As for the supermoon and a lunar eclipse occurring simultaneously, Petro said, “It’s just planetary dynamics. The orbit of the moon around Earth is inclined to the axis of Earth and the orbital plane of all these things just falls into place every once in a while. When the rhythms line up, you might get three to four eclipses in a row or a supermoon and an eclipse happening.”

But the proverbial stars only align for this event once every few decades, making this phenomenon much rarer than a supermoon or a lunar eclipse separately. The last supermoon/lunar eclipse combination occurred in 1982 and the next won’t happen until 2033. “That’s rare because it’s something an entire generation may not have seen,” said Petro.

Despite its rarity, Petro said the event is not cause for concern. “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,” he said.

The total eclipse will last one hour and 12 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific. Viewers can see the supermoon unmasked after nightfall. Earth’s shadow will begin to dim the supermoon slightly beginning at 8:11 p.m. EDT. A noticeable shadow will begin to fall on the moon at 9:07 p.m., and the total eclipse will start at 10:11 p.m.

Tune in on Sept. 27 for this rare event, taking place right in Earth’s neighborhood.
Sources:
Ashley Morrow
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
NASA

Astronomy Picture of the Day – A Golden Gate Eclipse

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 April 9

A Golden Gate Eclipse
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

 

Explanation: Shadows play on the water and in the sky in this panoramic view of the April 4 total lunar eclipse over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Just within planet Earth’s shadow the Full Moon’s disk is still easy to spot at its brief total phase. The urban night skyscape was composed to cover the wide range of brightness visible to the eye. The shortest total lunar eclipse of the century, this eclipse was also the third in a string of four consecutive total lunar eclipses, a series known as a tetrad. Coming in nearly six month intervals, the previous two were last April 15 and October 8. The next and final eclipse in the tetrad will be on September 28. This 2014-2015 tetrad is one of 8 total lunar eclipse tetrads in the 21st century.

Astronomy Picture of the Day – Full Moon in Earth’s Shadow

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 April 8


Full Moon in Earth’s Shadow
Image Credit & Copyright: Rolf Olsen

 

Explanation: Last week the Full Moon was completely immersed in Earth’s dark umbral shadow, just briefly though. The total phase of the April 4, 2015 lunar eclipse lasted less than 5 minutes, the shortest total lunar eclipse of the century. In fact, sliding just within the Earth’s umbral shadow’s northern edge, the lunar north stayed relatively bright, while a beautiful range of blue and red hues emerged across the rest of the Moon’s Earth-facing hemisphere. The reddened light within the shadow that reaches the lunar surface is filtered through the lower atmosphere. Seen from a lunar perspective it comes from all the sunsets and sunrises around the edges of the silhouetted Earth. Close to the shadow’s edge, the bluer light is still filtered through Earth’s atmosphere, but originates as rays of sunlight pass through layers high in the upper stratosphere. That light is colored by ozone that absorbs red light and transmits bluer hues. In this sharp telescopic view of totality from Auckland, New Zealand, planet Earth, the Moon’s north pole has been rotated to the top of the frame.

Blood moon: Sky gazers mesmerized as red hue lights up night sky

Blood moon: Sky gazers mesmerized as red hue lights up night sky

By Faith Karimi and Paul Vercammen, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) — Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the “blood moon” crossing the Earth’s shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.

The moon took on a reddish hue as it appeared in different phases between 2 and 4:30 a.m. ET.

In North and South America, where the blood moon was most prominent, observers pointed at the spectacle with binoculars, telescopes and cellphones.

Depending on time zones, it started late Monday night or in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Showers and clouds rendered it a bust in some cities, including Atlanta.

In Los Angeles, the chance to view the total lunar eclipse lured thousands to the Griffith Observatory. Families spread out blankets on the grass to take in views from dozens of telescopes set up like a stand of small trees.

Cameras clicked while watchers cheered and pointed at the blushing moon.

“It’s energizing. Look around. Everybody is here to see something rare and live,” said Gene Ireland, who teaches astronomy to middle school students.

Ireland encouraged those who reached the hilltop observatory grounds to peek through his 12-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope.

“Everyone is always looking down at their phones, their iPads,” he said. “We want them looking up. Looking up, you see a whole different world. Getting away from the cities and traffic, and the sky is just beautiful.”

‘Blood moons’

In a total lunar eclipse, the full moon turns a coppery red as it passes into Earth’s shadow. During the process, the moon’s bright glow dims, taking on a red hue because of shimmers of sunlight and sunsets seeping through the Earth’s atmosphere.

Dust and sulfur dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere can affect the size of the shadow. The moon has to be full for the total lunar eclipse to occur.

As more of the moon emerges from the shadow, its red tint fades as it gets lighter and transitions to its normal silver color. The entire reddening process takes about an hour.

Left out

In Tuesday’s spectacle, clouds hid the view from half of the United States, but cities such as Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles had optimal, front-row seats.

“Woke up in just enough time to see half of the blood moon,” tweeted LaTara Hammers of Columbia, Missouri. “It’s so cool how the universe works.”

South and North American residents watched the entire spectacle, while observers in the Western Pacific caught the second half of the event. Central Asia and some parts of Europe and Africa didn’t see much — the moon was setting in most of those continents during the eclipse.

“You know what’s even weirder than the ‘blood moon’? The entire solar system and how amazing it perpetually is always while we barely notice,” Johnny Argent tweeted.

‘A chance arrangement of gravity’

Ed Krupp, director of the observatory, described it as a “typical copper red” total lunar eclipse.

Though rare, it’s the sky “conspiring into a special event” that helps draw crowds, he said.

“The fact that there are four lunar successions coming this year and next … is unusual,” Krupp said. “But it’s not the kind of thing astronomers get worked up about. It doesn’t really mean anything. It’s a chance arrangement of gravity and the motions of objects in the solar system, primarily the Earth and moon.”

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye and don’t require special filters.

The rare sight and was virtually unheard of a few centuries ago.

Before the 20th century, there was a 300-year period when there were no blood moons, said Fred Espenak, a NASA eclipse expert.

“The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA,” he said.

Three more chances

If you missed it Tuesday, there will be more opportunities.

North America will see a blood moon four times — known as a tetrad — between now and September of next year. In addition to Tuesday, it will make another appearance on October 8 of this year, and April 4 and September 28 of next year.

Miss those, and you’ll have to wait until 2032.

Total lunar eclipse, Mars close approach tonight

Total lunar eclipse, Mars close approach tonight

Celestial event peaks at 3:45 a.m. ET April 15

CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2014 5:00 AM ET

A red moon will hang below a Red Planet in the night sky tonight, during a lunar eclipse that coincides with our closest approach to Mars in six years.

“This will be a great one for us. It’s very dramatic,” predicts Colin Haig, vice president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada of the lunar eclipse scheduled to peak at 3:45 a.m. ET Tuesday.

During a lunar eclipse, the Earth casts its shadow on the full moon as it passes between the moon and the sun.

This eclipse will be a relatively rare total eclipse, when the moon is completely cloaked in the shadow.

The relative positions of the lunar eclipse, the planet Mars and the blue star Spica (not to scale) are shown in this illustration of the south-southwest sky early Tuesday morning. (Duk Han Lee/CBC)

“What makes this one special is the moon is going to end up in the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow,” said Haig.

That will cause it to dim and turn a dramatic red colour.

“Some people like to say it’s sort of a blood-red moon,” Haig said, “which has great emotional impact but it’s not really blood colour —  it’s more of a coppery colour.”

That’s because during a lunar eclipse, any light from the sun has to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere in order to hit the moon. And because the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light the most (the reason the sky looks blue during the day), most of the light that hits the moon and then is reflected back at us is red.

Lunar eclipses don’t happen during every full moon because the moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted relative to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

While lunar eclipses happen several times a year, each one can only be viewed from certain places around the globe, and in most cases, only part of the Earth’s shadow falls on part of the moon.

1 hour and 20 minutes

Another thing that makes tonight’s eclipse special is it will be visible across the whole country. Canadians who live west of Kingston, Ont., will be able to see the entire event, which will unfold slowly over an hour and 20 minutes. For those who live east of Kingston, the moon will set while it is still orange, before the end of the eclipse.

Besides the lunar eclipse, there is another celestial event of note tonight – the planet Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in six years, just 96 million kilometres away. That means it will also be close to its biggest and brightest. appearing above and to the right of the moon by about nine degrees during the eclipse, Haig said.

The Red Planet will look like a reddish orange star, Haig said. But unlike a star, it won’t twinkle.

The red moon will also contrast sharply with the bright blue star Spica in the constellation Virgo, which will be just below the moon and to the right.

All that may make for some nice photos.

Haig says you’ll be able to capture the moon with just about any camera, but he recommends using a “modest” telephoto lens of at least 200 millimetres. He suggests taking a series of photos at intervals of about five minutes.

“You’ll have a nice mosaic of the event as the moon works its way across the sky.”

Tonight’s lunar eclipse kicks off a tetrad — a group of four total lunar eclipses over the next two years. The next ones are:

  • Oct. 8, 2014.
  • April 4, 2015.
  • Sept. 28, 2015.

But Haig warns that tonight’s eclipse will likely put on the best show for Canadians, as the next one won’t be visible in eastern Canada.

 

Source:

CBCNews

Lunar Eclipses and Solar Eclipses

Lunar Eclipses and Solar Eclipses

What’s the difference between a Solar Eclipse and a Lunar Eclipse?

Tarotcom Staff Tarotcom Staff on the topics of solar eclipse, new moon, lunar eclipse, full moon, astrology

Eclipses are pretty major events, especially in Astrology, but that doesn’t mean everyone understands the difference between a Solar Eclipse and a Lunar Eclipse — not to mention how they affect your life.

A Personal Moon report can help explain just how much the Moon affects your emotions. But in terms of eclipses, let’s start with the basics: A Solar Eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and a Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun.

Full Moon vs. the New Moon

With a Solar Eclipse, which can only happen at the New Moon, the shadow of the Moon is cast on the Earth and fully or partially blocks the Sun. Sometimes you can see a “ring of fire” glowing around the Solar Eclipse, but when there is a Total Eclipse of the Sun, the sky can grow dark in the middle of the day.

In Astrology, the darkness associated with a Solar Eclipse also casts a shadow on our innermost selves — it’s a time when we are reminded to turn inward, tap into our emotions and reconnect with the past. Solar Eclipses are about taking care of unfinished personal business before you can move on to new projects.

With a Lunar Eclipse, which can only occur at a Full Moon, the shadow of the Earth is cast on the Moon. This happens when the Moon passes behind the Earth and the Earth blocks the Sun’s rays, so it can only happen when the Sun, Earth and Moon are very closely aligned.

Lunation’s to spur personal growth

It’s much more common to view a Lunar Eclipse because they last longer (hours as opposed to minutes) and they can be seen from anywhere on Earth where you can see the Moon. During a Lunar Eclipse the sky will be very dark, but the Moon will appear Full and luminous, with a soft orange or pinkish hue.

Just like its softer visual appearance, the Lunar Eclipse has a softer astrological effect on our emotions, too. A Lunar Eclipse is a bit less intense, as it helps you to question less and feel more ready to let go of the past, shed old fears and habits, and finally feel light enough to move forward.

To dig deeper into the meaning of each Solar Eclipse or Lunar Eclipse, you’ll want to know in which sign each is taking place, as that will affect the overall forecast. But generally speaking, both Solar and Lunar Eclipses are special lunation’s that spur personal growth.

Current Moon Phase for October 21st – Full Moon

Full Moon

(waning/82% illumination)

A veil of self-absorption is lifted and suddenly you gain access to an unbiased view of others. This is a rare moment when you can see yourself objectively and become aware of whether or not what you want in your heart is actually beginning to manifest in your life. Traditionally, the Full Moon phase stirs emotion, and this is because when you “see” what is happening, you may become upset if you’re experiencing the “same ole, same ole” — rather than the things you would like. If the Full Moon phase is a disappointment, on the next New Moon it’s time to take creative action in the direction of your dreams.

Current Moon Phase for October 20th – Full Moon

Full Moon

(waning/88% of Full)

A veil of self-absorption is lifted and suddenly you gain access to an unbiased view of others. This is a rare moment when you can see yourself objectively and become aware of whether or not what you want in your heart is actually beginning to manifest in your life. Traditionally, the Full Moon phase stirs emotion, and this is because when you “see” what is happening, you may become upset if you’re experiencing the “same ole, same ole” — rather than the things you would like. If the Full Moon phase is a disappointment, on the next New Moon it’s time to take creative action in the direction of your dreams.