Sunday’s total lunar eclipse on September 27th captures several titles. It is considered a “Harvest Moon” because the full moon occurs close to the Autumnal equinox.
Some will call it a “supermoon” because the moon will be at perigee–it’s closest point to Earth during the month. The last time we saw a total lunar eclipse of a supermoon was in 1982, and it won’t happen again until 2033!
It’s also a “Blood Moon” as the moon will turn a burnt red-orange color. During a lunar eclipse Earth is directly between the sun and the moon. Even though Earth casts a shadow on the moon, it doesn’t look totally dark because of sunlight that enters Earth’s atmosphere. The light gets refracted by the atmosphere and reflected toward the moon turning it a red color.
Earth’s shadow will begin to take a bite out of the moon’s silvery disk at 9:07 p.m. EDT. The lunar eclipse then enters totality at 10:11 p.m. EDT and will remain there for 72 minutes.
This will be the final of a series of four total lunar eclipses that began in April 2014, and it’s the last lunar eclipse of 2015. In the US, the next partial lunar eclipse will be on March 23, 2016, and the next total lunar eclipse will happen on Jan. 31, 2018.
Venus the “morning star”
Look toward the low southeast sky at dawn in mid-September and your eye can’t help but be drawn to a sparkling point of light known as the “morning star.”
That “star” is the second planet from the sun, Venus, shining about 17 times brighter than Jupiter, the other major planet visible in morning skies this month. And on Monday, September 21, Venus puts on its best morning show for the entire year, reaching magnitude 4.8, the brightest it can get in our skies.
Through a small telescope, the planet’s disk will look like a miniature version of the crescent moon, thanks to the geometry of our two worlds in relation to the sun. You don’t want to miss this show because Venus won’t appear this bright and high in the sky again until 2016.
At 4:21 a.m. on Wednesday, September 23, the fall season kicks off in the Northern Hemisphere and spring starts in the Southern Hemisphere.
The September equinox marks one of the four major turning points in the seasonal cycle. Seasons occur on Earth because the planet’s axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees with respect to its orbital plane. During the fall and spring equinox, that axis is tilted neither away nor towards the sun but has both Northern and Southern hemispheres experiencing equal amounts of sunshine.
The word equinox comes from Latin meaning “equal night” and refers to the approximately 12-hour-long day and night that occurs only on these two days of the year, with the sun rising due east and setting due west.
Mars walks with Leo. Early risers on Thursday, September 24, should look toward the low western horizon to catch sight of Mars meeting up with Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo, the lion. The cosmic duo will be separated by less than 1 degree, which is less than the width of your index finger held at arm’s length. Bracketing the dim pair will be the super-bright planets Venus, above, and Jupiter, below.
Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: Andrew Fazekas