Rare celestial event coming: Lunar eclipse of a 'supermoon'

Posted Sep 2, 2015 by Caroline Leopold
Skywatchers in the Americas, Europe, and parts of Asia will see a total lunar eclipse of the moon on September 28 — which will cause the moon to have a blood-red or copper hue.
A "blood moon" lunar eclipse is seen in Tokyo on October 8  2014
A "blood moon" lunar eclipse is seen in Tokyo on October 8, 2014
Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP
A lunar eclipse coming later this month will be even more spectacular than usual.
The full moon that will be shadowed by the Earth is a "supermoon" — meaning the moon is close to the earth and appears larger and brighter than usual.
The term supermoon isn't an official scientific term, but rather an expression coined by an astrologer that stuck. Astronomers prefer to use the term near-earth or perigee moon, which means it is at its closest to Earth. The moon has an elliptical orbit and its distance from Earth varies.
Another reason that makes this eclipse special is its the last of a series of four total eclipses in a row. This phenomenon is called a "tetrad."
This phenomenon isn't that rare and is easily predicted, but these "blood moons" have captured the attention of skywatchers through the ages. There had been a prediction in 2013 that September 27 signaled the end of the world, according to CNN.
Christian minister John Hagee, while promoting his book "Four Blood Moons," claimed that the tetrad was a signal being sent by God. Patheos writer Bob Seidensticker analyzed Hagee's predictions and wrote in late 2013:
"I predict that John Hagee's prediction will fail in 2015 and the end will not come." The next tetrad will not come until 2032.
When to see the lunar eclipse
The good news for people living in the continental United States and most of Canada is that they will see a total eclipse and watch the moon turn a deep sunset red for about an hour. Alaskans and Hawaiians will see a partial eclipse when the moon rises.
Detail of Lunar eclipse map for September 27-28  2015
Detail of Lunar eclipse map for September 27-28, 2015
The total lunar eclipse will be visible from the most of North America and all of South America after sunset September 27. In Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, the total eclipse takes place after midnight and before sunrise September 28, explains EarthSky.
East Asia and some Pacific Islands will miss the eclipse because it will be daytime for them. offers a calculator to find the time and duration of the lunar eclipse.
Why does the moon look red?
When the sun is hidden behind the earth, light is scattered around the Earth in a rosy ring. That reddish light is cast upon the moon giving it a coppery hue.