On September 27, Cincinnatians can glance up at a pretty trippy celestial event: A total lunar eclipse, during a supermoon, during a Harvest Moon, on the completion of the tetrad. What does that mean exactly? <i>We’re all going to die!</i> Just kidding.

Total Lunar Eclipse
From roughly 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 until about midnight, the earth’s shadow will slowly block out the moon’s light as our planet aligns directly between the sun and moon. If you were standing on the moon when this happened, you would see an orange ring where the sun’s light bends around the Earth—in other words, watching every sunrise and sunset on the planet simultaneously. NASA says so! *mind blown*

Completion of the Tetrad
This is what you call a wonky space-geek stat (not that there’s anything wrong with that): You should look for a total lunar eclipse every 177 days, though it may or may not happen. This month’s eclipse will be the fourth consecutive that occurs at this predictable interval. “It’s a made up thing, the product of a cycle,” says Dean Regas, the Cincinnati Observatory’s outreach astronomer. But it sounds cool, so we’ll take it.

A supermoon is when a full moon occurs while closest to the earth in its elliptical orbit. Regas explains: “The supermoon, compared to what I call the ‘puny moon’—the smallest moon of the year—is like comparing a quarter to a nickel.”

Harvest Moon
Each full moon has its own moniker—the Snow Moon in February, the Pink Moon in April, and so on. The full moon that rises on the date closest to the fall equinox (Sept. 23, 2015) is the Harvest Moon, so named because its extra light allowed farmers to work into the night to bring in the crops. It sits low on the horizon and often takes on a reddish color, courtesy of the earth’s atmosphere.

Watch the whole thing go down September 27 at the Cincinnati Observatory.

Facebook Comments