On Sunday, Sept. 27, the night’s sky will unveil something so unique, you’ll want to put down your cell phones for five minutes to glimpse the rarity with your own eyes. It’s a total lunar eclipse that coincides with a “supermoon,” and it hasn’t happened since 1982.
If that’s doesn’t spark your curiosity, then get this: There have been just five supermoon eclipses since 1900, and some mystics believe it increases the risk of natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions — although scientists aren’t convinced. And you’ll have to wait until 2018 to see another lunar eclipse.
The eclipse is expected to begin at 9:07 p.m. Sunday night, with the full eclipse at 10:47 p.m.
Insider caught up with Dr. Tom Tretter, director of U of L’s Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, for a more informative explanation of this rare occurrence. He says the supermoon happens when the full moon is closest to the Earth, thereby appearing larger.
He explains: “However, without a ‘regular’ full moon next to it for comparison, you can’t really tell just by naked eye that it is bigger, but it is fun to know that it looks a bit larger than a typical full moon.”
What makes this Sunday extra special, he says, is that the supermoon is coinciding when the sun, Earth and moon are all lining up exactly, and the moon will move through the Earth’s shadow.
“During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a dark red color because only the deepest red of the sunlight is bent by Earth’s atmosphere and reaches the moon, which is in the shadow of Earth,” says Tretter. “So in addition to being larger due to its position in its elliptical orbit, it will also be a full lunar eclipse, with the moon turning dark crimson for part of the night during its passage through Earth’s shadow.”
As long as the clouds cooperate, Louisvillians will be able to see the supermoon as long as they’re outside and looking up. Tretter says he plans on watching it in his backyard with his middle-schooler, but a couple places are holding special viewing parties, and here’s what we know about those …
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is inviting folks to come out for their Full Harvest Moon Hike & Lunar Eclipse Sunday night from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The event incorporates stories of night ecology, moon lore, history and nature with a night hike (shall we call it a “moon walk”?). Cost is $12 or $10 for members, and early registration is required.
Also at Bernheim that same night, they’re holding the second SONICBernheim lecture/performance near Lake Nevin in the park. Co-curated by Aaron Rosenblum and Sara Soltau, the event explores the relationships between sound, music and nature — and what better backdrop than a supermoon hanging in the sky? Professor Aaron Allen from UNC will talk about ecomusicology, and there’ll be performances by Tim Barnes, Andrea-Jane Cornell, A7A and the Louisville Leopard Percussionists. It runs 6:30-10 p.m., and cost is $7 ($5 for members).
The Louisville Astronomical Society will be out Sunday night in full force, stationing their members in a few spots around Louisville to help explain to people what they’re seeing and geeking out about the event. They’ll be at the Big Four Bridge on both sides, Blackacre State Nature Preserve, Bernheim and the Parklands of Floyds Fork. Check out the above link to their website for details.
8UP Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen is also mooning over the moon with their Harvest Moon Dinner Sunday night at 6 p.m., and they probably offer one of the best views of the eclipse on their immaculate rooftop balcony. The seasonal-inspired, family-style dinner will be prepared by Chef Jacob Coronado and will feature a signature bourbon cocktail for those over 21. Cost is $55, and reservations are recommended. Click here for a look at the menu.