In the not-so-distant future, history books will acknowledge Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 as a rare lunar event. The combination of a harvest (full) moon, total lunar eclipse and super-moon left astronomers and citizens in both awe and wonder towards the night sky.
The Super-Harvest-Blood-Moon is identified by NASA as a rare astronomical event, with the last one occurring in 1982 and not expected again until 2033. Since 1900, the triple-decker has only been witnessed a whopping five times.
To those confused over the exact details of last night, it can be condensed down into three parts:
- Firstly, the occurance fell on the harvest moon, which is the full moon closest to the fall equinox. The fall equinox is the second yearly equinox, where the sun’s rays perfectly align with the Earth’s equator. This alignment astronomically signifies the changing of seasons, as daylight shortens each day after in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa for the South.
- The size discrepancy that many hail as a supermoon, happens when a full moon occurs simultaneously with the lunar orbit’s closest approach to Earth.
- The lunar eclipse is what gives the disk its hued look that’s dubbed by many as the blood moon. A blood moon occurs only when the Earth’s shadow completely blankets the moon’s surface, resulting in a reflection that has been likened to seeing every sunrise and sunset at once. This is where the red appearance comes from.
Unfortunately for sky gazers in Los Angeles and many other metropolitan areas, clouds and fogs heavily obscured the attraction. However, thanks to slow-shutter photography, some viewers were able to capture the lunar disk in all of its glory.
The East Coast had a much better attraction, as the eclipse rode high into the eastern sky long after Western audiences watched it get swallowed by Earth’s shadow.
For those who missed it, the next total lunar eclipse is expected Jan. 31, 2018. As for the next lunar triple, skygazers will have to set their calendars ahead by 18 years for 2033.