The current talk of the town is Total Lunar eclipse followed by the Super Moon.
Lunar eclipse, as we all know, occurs when Moon, Earth, Sun come are exactly or closely aligned in a line. As a result, the sunlight falling on the moon is obstructed by the earth.
As the moon enters the outer shadow of the earth known as Penumbra, the moon gets dim. When the moon gets totally engulfed in the deepest shadow of the earth, also known as Umbra, the moon appears bright-red in colour.
As the sunlight is obstructed, the only illumination of the moon can be seen due to the refraction of sunlight from the earth’s atmosphere.
The sunlight is filtered by the dust particles, clouds, pollution etc. making the moon to appear bright-red in colour.
Hence the name Blood Moon.
Total Lunar eclipse will be observed on Jan 20-21 followed by the Super Moon.
North and South America, Europe and western Africa will see a total lunar eclipse, whereas eastern Africa and Asia will observe a partial eclipse.
Next Total Lunar eclipse is not going to be observed until 2021.
Super Moon and Micro Moon:
Since the moon’s orbit around the earth is elliptical while orbiting the moon sometimes is on the side of the orbit closest to the earth whereas sometimes farthest to the earth.
The point when the moon is closest to the earth is called ‘Perigee’ and the farthest point is called ‘Apogee’.
When it is a Full or New Moon which is on the side of the orbit closest to the earth, it is called Super Moon whereas when the Full or New Moon is farthest to the earth, it is called Micro Moon.
To be very precise when the Full Moon is near its closest approach to earth it is called Super Full Moon and when the New Moon is near its closest approach to earth it is Super New Moon.
Super Full Moon is bigger and 15% brighter than the usual Full Moon and 30% brighter than the Micro Moon.
The term Super Moon was coined by Richard Nolle in 1979. The technical name for Super Moon is perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term ‘syzygy’ is a (roughly) straight-line configuration of three or more celestial bodies.
In the year 2019, there will be a series of 3 Full Moon Super Moons.
Super Moon on 21st January will be the first of all the three Full Moon Super Moons of 2019. Remaining will be observed on 19th February and 21st March with 19th February being the closest Full Moon Super Moon making the moon largest of the series.
The closest full Super Moon of the 21st century is going to occur on December 6, 2052.
It is likely for people to think about the difference in the sizes of the Super Moons.
Well, the difference in the sizes of the Super Moon is because the shape of the orbit or elliptical orbit of the moon around the earth is changing all the time as the moon is pulled or pushed by other gravitational forces.
Hence the closest and farthest distance of the moon’s orbit changes all the time.
As the tides in the oceans are affected by the gravity of the moon and sun, there were speculations that Super Moon might cause natural disasters like Tsunami, floods etc. But scientists have refuted all the beliefs. The effect of Super Moon on earth is minor.
Unlike Solar eclipse, Lunar eclipse can be seen without any eye protection.
So, gaze up the sky tonight to see the astronomical phenomenon of Super Full Moon.