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East Coast stargazers on Sunday can look for a "blood moon" — the red moon characteristic of a total lunar eclipse.

"It will have a deep red color because the moon is going into the Earth's shadow," said Todd Ullery, who runs the planetarium at the York Learning Center.

The moon will appear red because red light bends the most, so it'll be the only light curving around the Earth to the moon, which will be on the exact opposite side of the planet from the sun, he said.

"It's red for the same reason sunsets are red," he said.

Look outside about 10:50 p.m. Sunday and it'll be "very obvious," Ullery said. He said there'll be some color change starting around 9 p.m., and it'll be back to normal around 1 a.m.

"Assuming it's clear, you simply look out the window and it'll be midway up in the sky in the southeast," he said.

Total lunar eclipses occur usually twice per year, he said.

Some people are flipping out about the fact that this weekend will feature the rare intersection of a "supermoon" and the total lunar eclipse. Supermoons are when the moon is at its perigee — when it's the closest it comes to Earth, so it looks bigger and brighter.

Ullery doesn't like hyping up supermoons. He said they're not that striking, and the average person can't really tell the difference between it and the average moon, so it just ends up being disappointing.

There hasn't been an instance when a blood moon and a supermoon happened at the same time for the past 33 years, and there won't be another one for another 18.

It'll all be a moot point for viewers, though, if it's cloudy, which it may well be — the National Weather Service is predicting mostly cloudy skies over York on Sunday night.

More stargazing: Ullery said the latter half of October will bring a cool celestial phenomenon: Venus and Jupiter will both be very bright, hanging near each other low in the eastern morning sky. Around 6 a.m. will be the best time to see them.

The York County Astronomical Society hosts a monthly observation event at John C. Rudy County Park in Manchester Township. In October, it'll be 8-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. Members of the society will be on hand to show people what's what in the sky and to teach them how to use telescopes.

Earlier that same day, Ullery will have planetarium shows available to the public. Kids' programs will be held at 2 p.m. and 3:20 p.m., and then shows for a general audience will be at 7 p.m., 7:40 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Check out ycas.org for more information.

— Reach Sean Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.

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