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'Super Moon' makes lunar eclipse spectacular

Sunday night's so-called supermoon is seen through branches of a tree during a lunar eclipse in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Sunday night's so-called supermoon is seen through branches of a tree during a lunar eclipse in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a show 33 years in the making and won't be seen again for another 18 years: a lunar eclipse coincided with a "super moon." Unfortunately, most of our area was blanketed with clouds, making viewing difficult.

This eclipse is the fourth and final total lunar eclipse of the tetrad, a series of four total lunar eclipses separated by six months.

Even though the entire globe was able to see it, it could be seen the best in the United States, all of South America, western Africa and western Europe.

The astronomical show began with the penumbra (the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object) just before 9 p.m., with the full eclipse beginning at precisely at 10:11 p.m. The full eclipse ended just before 11:30 p.m and the entire show ended before 1 a.m.

uSHARE/Storm Pins photos of eclipse

So what's this Super Moon?

So let me ask you a question: Are we closer to the sun during July or in January? 

No, it's not a trick question. We're actually closer to the sun at certain times of the year than others. Many of you would probably guess July. After all, it feels like sun is in our backseats that time of year. 

If you guessed July, you'd be wrong. Way wrong. In fact, we're furthest from sun at that point in time.

The reason is the orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle. It's elliptical meaning we'll be farther from the sun in July than we are in January -- our closest approach.

Where am I going with this? Well, the same thing that happens with the Earth and the sun happens also with the moon. There are times that the moon is closer to the Earth than other times. 

This effect is known as perigee and apogee where perigee is the closest approach and  the apogee is furthest. The best way to remember this is the "A" in apogee can stand for "away" or furthest.

Sunday night's lunar eclipse lined up perfectly with the perigee making the moon look 14 percent closer and up to 30 percent brighter. 


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