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Blood Moon and Super Moon

On the night between Sunday and Monday, you can experience two exceptional celestial phenomenons in Spain, blood moon and super moon at the same time.

Lunar eclipse. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Lunar eclipse. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

At night September 28th the moon will be particularly close to the earth and moreover be low over the horizon. The phenomenon is known as a super moon and occurs only when it is full moon. When it’s super moon the moon is perceived as if it is extra large. The moon will be appers to be larger, but it is an illusion. Actually, the moon is only eight percent closer to Earth than the average distance.

What makes it even more spectacular this time is that simultaneously there is a total lunar eclipse. This does not mean that the moon becomes invisible. We will still be able to see it, but we will perceive the moon as glowing red. It is the light of the sun filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere that creates the rusty red color.

Last time it was super moon and blood moon at the same time was in 1982, and next time will not be until 2033. The phenomenon can be seen in many parts of the world, including UK and Spain. Spain and UK are perfect places to be able to fully enjoy the phenomenon, as one can see all these phases of the eclipse (see map below).

Timetable for the lunar eclipse September 28, 2015:

  1. 2:12 am – Penumbral lunar eclipse starts
  2. 3:07 am – The partial eclipse begins
  3. 4:11 am – The total eclipse begins
  4. 4:47 am – Maximum total lunar eclipse
  5. 5:23 am – Total lunar eclipse ends
  6. 6:27 am – The partial lunar eclipse ends
  7. 7:22 am – Penumbral lunar eclipse ends

Map showing where the lunar eclipse is visible. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Explanations of the terms above

Penumbral lunar eclipse
In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon is only in the penumbra, where there is only partial shade. In this type of eclipse the moon looks darker than normal. Onn the way into the umbra the moon always passes through the penumbra, thus a total lunar eclipse always also implies a partial lunar eclipse. Penumbra is therefore in this case a partial shade (penumbra) the eclipse (the word has disambiguation).

Partial lunar eclipse
A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only part of the moon hits the umbra. Here it seems as if the part that is in the umbra is gone. As if someone has taken a bite out of the moon. Umbra is in this case the total core shadow (also this word has multiple meanings).

Total lunar eclipse
During a total lunar eclipse the moon is in the Earth’s total conical shadow, called the umbra. There is no real direkt sunlight that illuminates the moon. It in this type of lunar eclipse the phenomenon of “blood moon” occurs. The moon does not emit any light itself – just as Earth. And it may seem odd that it is precisely in the umbra where there is no sunlight that the moon turns red. But that’s because Earth’s atmosphere spreads the light and that only red and orange light having a long wavelength that can pass through the atmosphere and penetrate the umbra shadow. Bluish light has a short wavelength scattered by air molecules and particles in the air, and therefore it does not reach to the moon. When the red light hits the moon it is being reflected on the moon surface and gives the moon a red glow.