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Rare Opportunity to see Supermoon and Lunar Eclipse Sunday, Sept. 27

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 rhbloome@king.edu. “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.

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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.