Supermoon, Harvest Moon, Blood Moon 2015: September 27 is the Moon’s Big Night

Supermoon, Harvest Moon, Blood Moon 2015: September 27 is the Moon’s Big Night
Supermoon, Harvest Moon, Blood Moon 2015: September 27 is the Moon’s Big Night

What’s happening with the Moon on September 27?
Observers around the world are in for a special treat on September 27-28, 2015. That night, the “Supermoon” (a larger and brighter Moon than usual) will dip behind the Earth’s shadow and become completely eclipsed. At first, the Moon will appear as a crescent or a “cookie bite” as the Earth’s shadow begins to overtake it. But when the eclipse reaches totality, the Moon will take on a rusty red color. The unique hue has given rise to the nickname “Blood Moon” to describe the lunar eclipse—but don’t worry, the phenomenon is not as sinister as it sounds!

What’s the best way to view the Supermoon/Blood Moon of 2015?
A total lunar eclipse is stunning to view even with the naked eye, but optics will greatly enhance your viewing experience. The good news is that just about any telescope or binocular will show great detail on the Moon. For a cost-effective option, we recommend a lower power, large aperture binocular like the Cometron 7x50 astronomy binocular. Since the Moon is easy to track, manual telescopes like a Dobsonian or our bestselling Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ are great choices. If you will be observing the eclipse with a binocular or telescope, invite some friends and family to share the view. You could even host your own Eclipse Party!

Why does the Moon turn red during a total lunar eclipse?
While the Earth is able to block most sunlight from hitting the lunar disk, the Sun is so bright that some of its rays do pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and make their way around the Earth to shine onto the Moon. As the light passes through the atmosphere, the other colors in the visible spectrum are filtered out, leaving only red light to strike the Moon.

What’s so super about the Supermoon?
Like all celestial objects, the Moon orbits not in a perfect circle, but in an oblong shape called an ellipse. A “Supermoon,” a celestial phenomenon that can occur several times per year, happens when the Moon is at its closest distance from the Earth within that ellipse. During the Supermoon, the Moon appears about 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual in the nighttime sky. The term Supermoon was only recently coined by the media, but Supermoons have been happening for millions of years—professional astronomers call it “perigee.”

What about the Harvest Moon?
The traditional “Harvest Moon” simply refers to the full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, that’s September 27. The Harvest Moon has been known to rise very close to or shortly after sunset. In the days before electricity, the rising full Moon, low on the horizon, was so bright that it provided farmers with enough light to continue harvesting their crops after sunset.

Is the Blood Moon/Supermoon a cause for concern?
Absolutely not! Doomsday fanatics may claim that the proximity of the Moon to the Earth could cause catastrophes such as tsunamis and earthquakes, but it’s just not true. The Moon completes its revolution around the Earth about every 28 days, and it reaches perigee every time (though it doesn’t usually coincide with a full Moon). While tides are slightly stronger during perigee, the effect is not significant enough to disrupt weather patterns here on Earth. So don’t worry about this very special evening—get out there and enjoy it!