By MARC TORRENCE (Patch National Staff)
Havre de Grace residents looking for something unique to do this weekend only need to look overhead on Sunday evening for a free show.
The first supermoon combined with a lunar eclipse to appear in 30 years is set to rise.
On Sunday evening, sky-watchers will see a larger-than-normal harvest moon begin to dim and turn red, lasting for more than an hour before returning to its normal brightness and color.
The last time this happened was 1982, and it won’t happen again until 2033.
This light show in the sky is courtesy of two usually separate phenomena occurring at the same time: The supermoon is what makes the moon appear bigger; the lunar eclipse turns the moon red.
The combination should make for a spectacular sight: a massive, red moon hanging in the sky for more than hour.
If you plan to put it on your bucket list—and you should—the best viewing areas are places with dark skies.
According to the National Weather Service, Havre de Grace residents might have to watch the spectacle through a mostly cloudy sky. Check the forecast.
So, What Is a Supermoon?
“Supermoon” is the unofficial term for “perigee,” when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its oval-shaped orbit, making it appear 14 percent bigger in the night sky.
(We’re actually in the middle of a cycle of three supermoons in a row. The first showed up Aug. 29, and the last will be Oct. 27.)
A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun. The moon enters the Earth’s shadow, creating a reddish glow on the moon.
NASA says the supermoon will begin to dim at 8:11 p.m. EDT. A shadow will fall over the moon starting at 9:07, with the total eclipse beginning at 10:11 and lasting for an hour and 12 minutes.
Here are some viewing tips:
- Show up to your stargazing destination while it’s still light out to allow your eyes to adjust slowly as the light disappears. This also allows you to see where you’re going as you choose the perfect viewing spot.
- Don’t use artificial light sources such as flashlights and cell phone displays. If you need to use light, try placing red tape over a flashlight, since red light is less damaging to night vision ability.
- Bring chairs, blankets, water and snacks to make your night comfortable. You may be there for a couple hours, so don’t let hunger or discomfort ruin this spectacular evening!
A harvest supermoon on Sept. 27 will have an added bonus: a lunar eclipse. Photo Credit: NASA.
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