Total lunar eclipse meets supermoon Sunday night

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Total lunar eclipse meets supermoon Sunday night

As NPR's Rebecca Hersher has reported, the moon will get its shadowy revenge in a few years: "There will be solar eclipses visible from parts of the contiguous USA on October 14, 2023, and April 8, 2024".

It's hard to predict the exact hue of lunar eclipses, but whatever shade results can offer insight about the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere.

The Moon will be pretty low in the sky, so to have a chance of seeing it, make sure you have a free line of sight to the western horizon.

Miss this eclipse and we here in Montreal will have to wait a few years - until May 15, 2022 for the next chance to see the moon turn blood red before our eyes. Then the real fun begins at 10:34 p.m. when the first hint of a Earth's shadow touching the moon will signal the start of the eclipse. All you have to do is go outside and look up. Pacific Standard Time, reach totality between 8:41 and 9:44 p.m. and be over by 11:48 p.m. The eclipse will conclude just before 2 a.m.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes behind the Earth and into the Earth's shadow.

We get two to five supermoons every year, while the gap between blood moons is anywhere from six months to about three years.

Total lunar eclipses offer some interesting perspective, astronomers say.

"A full 62 luxurious minutes of totality", says Sky and Telescope Magazine.

So, to recap: The moon will be closer to Earth than usual (a "super moon").

Adding to the excitement is that this eclipse is occurring as the full moon reaches perigee - its closest it can to Earth - which is commonly referred to as a supermoon. Hence, the "Super" portion of the moniker.

Yes, there will be a full moon on January 20, according to Woody Sullivan, University of Washington astronomer and professor emeritus. But that last part is because of something much cooler: an eclipse.

The "Blood" part comes from the way the sun's light passes through Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse.

"If you are lucky enough to be able to see the whole event, you can get a mental picture of the size of the Earth's shadow at the distance of the moon by watching the moon move against background stars". That light can also change based on dust, pollutants or other particles in Earth's atmosphere. It could also take on little to no color, he said.

Finally, full moons are given monthly names, and this one happens to be the "wolf" moon. It will be the first full moon of the year (a "wolf moon").

The moon rises the evening of January 30th, 2018 along the St. Petersburg waterfront. And the best thing is, you don't need any special equipment to watch it: just step outside, look up and find the moon. If you want to see this phenomenon, make sure you wrap up very warm, as temperatures of -2C at sea and -6C inland are expected.

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