East Hawaii News

Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse Not Visible, Super Moon Expected

September 27, 2015, 3:40 PM HST
* Updated September 27, 5:26 PM
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Today, September 27th, the moon is officially dubbed a “Supermoon”. The moon will appear larger & brighter than usual. Tonight we have a full moon, but the moon is also at perigee – the point on the moon’s elliptical path when it is closest to earth.

Full moon + Perigee =  Supermoon

Tonight’s supermoon will not only look brighter and larger than usual, it’s also the closest encounter with Earth for the calendar year of 2015, coming within 221,754 miles of our planet.

However, it’s not all that unusual to have a “supermoon” – it’s actually relatively routine. In fact, there were three supermoons last year (2014). Tonight’s supermoon is unusual because of its timing with the total lunar eclipse. The last time it happened was in 1982, and the next time it will happen will be in 2033. Hawaii has been well-placed for the last three total lunar eclipses (on April 14, 2014; October 7-8 2014; and April 4, 2015), but tonight our luck runs out. Unfortunately for us here in Hawaii, the lunar eclipse ends right as the moon rises tonight. On September 27th the moon will rise at 6:30 p.m. The actual moment of the moon being full occurs at 4:51 p.m.

Image: NASA

Image: NASA

A supermoon may look up to 30% brighter and appears up to 14% bigger than other full moons of the year but it’s not always easy to tell the difference between a supermoon and a normal full moon. The “moon illusion” is what really makes it stand out. For reasons scientists can’t quite put their finger on, low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when viewed near objects in the foreground, and when this happens at perigee, it can definitely be super!

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