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BRISTOL, Tenn., Sept. 24, 2015 – This Sunday, Sept. 27, for the first time in more
than 30 years, you will be able to witness a rare phenomenon, a supermoon combined
with a lunar eclipse. The last supermoon/lunar eclipse combination occurred in 1982
and the next won’t happen until 2033.
On Sunday night, the moon will not only be full but it will also be a supermoon, appearing
14% larger and 30% brighter in the sky. This event takes place the same evening as
a lunar eclipse, which happens when the Earth blocks most of the sunlight from hitting
the moon. Some light, however, scatters in the Earth's atmosphere and reaches the
moon even when it is in the shadow of the Earth.
According to Dr. Ray Bloomer, emeritus professor of Physics and Astronomy at King
University, “The atmosphere scatters bluer light and lets most red light get through.
Thus the scattered sunlight that gets through during the eclipse has very little blue
light and the red light sneaks through to hit the moon. Thus the blood color! However,
the atmosphere changes due to dust in the air (volcanic ash for example) and thus
the scattered light the hits the moon is different from one eclipse to another. Will
it be bright red or deep orange? Wait and see!”
Bloomer adds, “Lunar eclipses can be viewed by 50% of the Earth's surface at any given
moment. Thus many people over the globe will be sharing in this rare event at the
very same moment! The Moon first enters a ‘partial shadow’ of the Earth called the
penumbra. Slowly you can see the shadow of the Earth creep across the Moon's surface.
Once totally in the Earth's shadow we call that the umbra of the shadow. That is when
it takes on its really deep color.”
For this eclipse the penumbra begins about 8:40 p.m. EDT. The partial eclipse, where
you see the shadow creeping across the Moons, will take place from 9:07 p.m. until
10:10 p.m. EDT.
“This is exciting to watch,” comments Bloomer. “Notice that the shadow is curved.
That means that the Earth is round! Thus the ancients knew that the Earth is a ball
a long time ago.”
The total eclipse, where the Earth is completely within the Earth's shadow begins
at 10:10 p.m. and ends at 11:23 p.m. EDT. “This is the best time to watch for us on
the East coast; it is worth the wait.
Dr. Bloomer has issued a challenge to anyone who observes the eclipse after 10:10
p.m. to send him an email with their observations at firstname.lastname@example.org. “I am most interested in the color that is observed, and to know if you can see
the Earth is round?”
Visit NASA Goddard’s YouTube page to watch a short video about the supermoon/lunar
eclipse at https://youtu.be/vKAw_wrIr5s.
King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in
1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional
degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health
sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business
administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning
opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA
Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information
about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of
any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University
is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV
certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community
College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.