Video: NASA explains rarity of supermoon total eclipse coming Sunday night
The night sky will feature a celestial doubleheader on Sunday when a supermoon eclipse will occur, but clouds could get in the way.
The rare “supermoon” eclipse will be at its peak at 7:11 p.m. Sunday, shortly after the 6:55 p.m. sunset. According to NASA, North America hasn’t seen a full lunar eclipse of this sort – with the full moon at its closest point to the Earth – since 1982.
Earlier forecasts predicted a clear sky for the event, but “it might be a little iffy to see it,” said Eric Kurth, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Sacramento station said Saturday.
“Some (weather) models show a band of medium and high clouds, stretching from Interstate 80 south. You’ll have a better chance (to watch the eclipse) further up north, above Chico or Redding. But if you’re in Stockton, you’ll see clouds,” he said.
Pesky clouds also could spoil the view in the Sacramento area.
“Sacramento will be on the edge of this cloud bank,” Kurth said. “We may still be able to see the moon poke through. These clouds usually are not that opaque. The further north you go, the better the view.”
A supermoon occurs when its closer proximity to Earth makes it appear slightly bigger.
“When the moon is farthest away, it’s known as apogee, and when it’s closest, it’s known as perigee,” said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “On Sept. 27, we’re going to have a perigee full moon – the closest full moon of the year.”
In a total lunar eclipse, the entire moon is shadowed by Earth, according to NASA. Lunar eclipses typically happen twice a year.
It is something of a rarity when a supermoon and lunar eclipse occur at the same time. Petro said the next simultaneous aligning of the two won’t happen until 2033.