Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse This Weekend

Lunar Eclipse. Credit: NASA.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- A special lunar eclipse will occur on the night of Sunday, September 27, 2015 and into the morning of September 28, 2015.  This lunar eclipse is rare because it is the last in a series of Tetrad 'Blood Moons' and is also a super moon, the largest Full Moon of the year.

A super moon lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth during the eclipse. This event requires the alignment of three astronomical cycles that only happens once every 18 years and 11 days, according to NASA.

September's lunar eclipse is also special because it is the last of four consecutive full lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 that make up a Tetrad.  For some believers in Christian prophecy, these four Blood Moons mark the beginning of the end of the world.

What Time Is The September 2015 "Blood Moon" Lunar Eclipse?

The lunar eclipse will occur on the night of September 27 and the morning of September 28, depending on the viewer's time zone.

On the U.S. East Coast, the lunar eclipse will begin at just after 9 p.m. EDT and ends around 12:30 a.m. EDT on the morning of September 28th, with some slight time variation depending on the viewer's exact location. The total lunar eclipse, when the moon is expected to turn into a dark-copper red Blood Moon, will occur between 10:00 p.m. and 12 p.m. EDT, depending on the viewer's exact location in the eastern U.S.

When is the best time to watch the Super Moon?

Low hanging moons near the horizon appear larger to humans.  So, the Super Moon will appear biggest to the naked eye on the U.S east coast during and just after the moonrise around 7:00 p.m. on September 27th, 2015 (with a few minutes of variation depending on your exact location). 

Why is September's Full  Moon Called a Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture.  In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset.  It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market.  The Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox became "the Harvest Moon," and it was always a welcome sight.

Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall.  This year, the Autumn Equinox and changing of the calendar seasons will occur on September 23, 2014.  Equinox means "equal night" in Latin, capturing the idea that daytime and nighttime are equal lengths everywhere on the planet.

2015 Autumn Equinox, Harvest Moon, and Daylight Savings Time

Naturally, many people think that with the changing of the seasons comes the changing of their clocks at the beginning of Fall 2015.  But this is not the case. It is true however, that a helpful way to remember whether to set our clocks ahead or behind one hour during the daylight savings time is to "Fall Back" and "Spring Ahead."

The beginning of Fall 2015 does not mean the end of 2015 Daylight Savings Time.  Daylight Savings Time occurs after the 2015 Autumn Equinox and Harvest Moon when days become shorter and shorter heading closer to the Winter Solstice.