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Get set for Sunday's eclipse
Call it a supermoon, total lunar eclipse — and then some.
It's hard to fathom the number of descriptors tagged to the full moon to rise Sunday around the time the sun starts setting. Weather permitting, the best of the rare show should be visible across the eastern U.S.
First, it's to be "the biggest and closest super moon of the year," said EarthSky.org, which offers daily updates on the night sky. The supermoon term is elicited when a full moon appears supersized as a result of its being at perigee — coming closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit.
Such moons occur about once a year and can appear as much as 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than typical full moons, according to NASA.
'Blood moon': It's also called a "blood moon," as a total lunar eclipse is also occurring that night. When a full moon — in this case, a super full moon — enters total eclipse, it can appear to turn red. That happens as sunlight moves through Earth's atmosphere and Earth's sunrises and sunsets get projected onto the moon, says Sue Rose, president of the Amateur Observers' Society of New York.
So we have a seemingly larger-than-usual bright, white moon darkening as it moves into Earth's shadow, then turning a reddish hue at total eclipse, then darkening again and reverting back to white.
Of course, Mother Nature will also have to cooperate, weather wise, with Accuweather.com predicting partly cloudy skies in York County.
The last time "planetary dynamics" lined a supermoon up with a lunar eclipse was in 1982, with the next one not arriving until 2033, according to a Nasa.gov post.
It's also a harvest moon, which is a full moon that comes nearest to the autumnal equinox — which is Wednesday, the first day of fall.
Here's a viewing schedule from www.timeanddate.com:
•Partial eclipse begins with left side of moon starting to darken, 9:07 p.m. Sunday
•Total eclipse begins with moon completely within dark shadow of Earth, 10:11 p.m.
•Maximum eclipse, with moon, now red, in the center of the shadow, 10:47 p.m.
•Total eclipse ends, with moon starting to darken, 11:23 p.m.
•Partial eclipse ends, moon back to white, 12:27 a.m. Monday.