Not the Apocalypse: Van Allen Observatory hosts public viewing of supermoon lunar eclipse

Lunar Eclipse Public Viewing

Van Allen Observatory (Van Allen Hall) — Sunday, September 27 at 7 p.m.

Sunday night Iowa skywatchers will get a rare treat, the first supermoon lunar eclipse in over three decades. This rare astronomical event occurs when a supermoon, which is a full moon that happens to coincide with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth (called perigee), passes into the shadow of the Earth giving it a reddish color.

The supermoon — 14% larger than an average full moon — will begin to enter the outer shadow of the Earth (the penumbra) shortly after 7 p.m., with the total eclipse starting around 9:11 p.m. and lasting a little over an hour. The reddish color of the moon during a total lunar eclipse (often called a blood moon) results from the Sun’s light bending through the atmosphere of the Earth.

Look to the Southeast to enjoy this rare event, because if you miss it, it won’t come around again until 2033!

— Shea Brown
Visiting Assistant Professor, UI Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

Blood moon image by Lawria

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