On the Eve of Sunday, September 27th, people in the United States can see something that hasn’t happened in more than 30 years: a supermoon combined with a lunar eclipse. The last such eclipse happened in 1982, and the next won’t occur until 2033!
This light show in the sky is courtesy of two usually separate phenomena occurring at the same time: Because of this rare combination, it is being called a “supermoon eclipse.” The supermoon is what makes the moon appear bigger; the lunar eclipse turns the moon red.
The moon will once again become immersed in the Earth’s shadow, resulting in a total lunar eclipse — The final fourth blood moon of the tetrad.
The combination should make for a spectacular sight: 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 in the sky, lasting for more than hour.
Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. – Jeremiah 10:2 (KJV).
This is the “biggest” full moon (in apparent size) of 2015, since the moon will also be at perigee on the very same day ─ its closest point to the Earth ─ 221,753 miles (356,877 km) away.
As with all lunar eclipses, the region of visibility for Sunday’s blood-moon lunar eclipse will encompass more than half of our planet. Nearly 1 billion people in the Western Hemisphere, nearly 1.5 billion throughout much of Europe and Africa and perhaps another 500 million in western Asia will be able to watch as the Harvest Full Moon becomes a shadow of its former self and morphs into a glowing red ball.
Unlike many stellar events – such as meteor showers or solar eclipses – the full lunar eclipse should be visible to almost everyone in the Americas and Western Europe, from the star-studded skies of Nebraska to neon-lit Times Square! Using just the naked human eye!
Especially across the East Coast, the moon will take on a reddish hue as the earth’s shadow fits itself over the moon, giving watchers a rare reflection of Earth’s existence.
The reddish tint basically encompasses “all of the sunrises and sunsets across the world, all at once, being reflected off the surface of the moon,” as Sarah Noble, a NASA program scientist, tells the New York Times.
The only problematic area will be in the Western United States and West-Central Canada, where the first partial stage of the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises and the sun sets on that final Sunday in September. But if you have an open view low to the east, even this situation will only add to the drama, for as twilight fades, these far-Westerners will see the shadow-bitten moon coming into stark view low above the landscape. And by late twilight, observers will have a fine view of the totally eclipsed lunar disk glowing red and dim low in the eastern sky.
For more information, check out this fun video NASA put together:
The reason the moon can be seen at all when totally eclipsed is that sunlight is scattered and refracted around the edge of the Earth by the planet’s atmosphere. To an astronaut standing on the moon during totality, the sun would be hidden behind a dark Earth outlined by a brilliant red ring of all of the world’s sunrises and sunsets.
Alaskans will also see the moon rise during the eclipse; much of eastern Alaska will see the moon rise while immersed in the Earth’s shadow. For Hawaiians, moonrise unfortunately comes after the end of totality, with the moon gradually ascending in the sky and its gradual emergence from the shadow readily visible. Western Europe and Africa also will get a good view of the eclipse, but at a less convenient time: before dawn on Monday morning (Sept. 28).
The eclipse will actually begin when the moon enters the faint outer portion, or penumbra, of the Earth’s shadow. The penumbra, however, is all but invisible to the eye until the moon becomes deeply immersed in it. Sharp-eyed viewers may get their first glimpse of the penumbra as a delicate shading on the left part of the moon’s disk about 15 minutes before the start of the partial eclipse (when the round edge of the central shadow, or umbra, first touches the moon’s left edge). During the partial eclipse, the penumbra should be readily visible as a dusky border to the dark umbral shadow.
The moon will enter Earth’s much darker umbral shadow at 1:07 a.m. on Sept. 28 by Greenwich, or Universal time, which is 9:07 p.m. on Sept. 27 in the Eastern time zone, 8:07 p.m. Central time, 7:07 p.m. Mountain time and 6:07 p.m. Pacific time (before moonrise). Sixty-four minutes later, the moon is entirely within the shadow, and sails on within it for 72 minutes until it begins to find its way out at the lower left (southeastern) edge.
The moon will be free of the umbra by 9:27 p.m. Pacific time or 12:27 a.m. (Sept. 28) Eastern time. The vaguer shading of the inner penumbra can continue to be readily detected for perhaps another 15 minutes or so after the end of umbral eclipse. Thus, the whole experience ends toward 1 a.m. for the East (with the re-brightened moon now sloping down along the arc it describes across the sky) or during the mid-evening hours for the West.
For Europe and Africa, the midpoint of this eclipse occurs roughly between midnight and dawn on Sept. 28, and the moon will therefore still be well placed in the western sky. At the moment of mid-totality (2:48 a.m. GMT), the moon will be directly overhead from a point in the Atlantic Ocean a couple of hundred miles to the north of Belém, Brazil.
Below we present a timetable of the key phases of the eclipse. Times in p.m. are for the calendar date of Sept. 27; those in a.m. are for Sept. 28.
In Europe, most countries currently observe “summer time,” in which clocks are either one hour ahead of Greenwich time (London, Lisbon) or two hours ahead (Paris, Rome).
For the Canadian Maritime provinces, clocks run one hour ahead of Eastern time, except in Newfoundland, where it’s one and a half hours ahead.
Notable cities in the Eastern time zone include New York, Jacksonville, Florida and Atlanta; in the Central time zone, Chicago, Memphis, Tennessee, and Houston; for Mountain time, Salt Lake City, Denver and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in the Pacific Time Zone, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In the United States, Daylight Saving Time is not observed in Arizona. Clocks there read similar to Pacific time. For most of Alaska, clocks run one hour behind Pacific time; in Hawaii two hours.
In the Faithful Service of Jesus Christ,
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And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, thatwhosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved -Acts 2:19 -21 (KJV).
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise – Revelation 8:12 (KJV).
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come – Joel 2:31 (KJV).
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; – Revelation 6:12 (KJV).
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine -Isaiah 13:10 (KJV).
And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light -Ezekiel 32:7 (KJV).
Scriptures for Learning:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. – James 1:17 (KJV).
The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun.- Psalm 74:16 (KJV).
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.- Psalm 104:19 (KJV).
To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever. – Psalm 136:7-9 (KJV).