The moon is getting big star treatment on Sunday.
For the first time in more than 30 years, many Americans will see a supermoon and the rare total lunar eclipse – also called the “blood moon” for its reddish color – on the same night.
It will be the biggest and closest supermoon of the year, appearing extra bright and large, according to NASA.
This makes it a rare and dramatic “super blood moon” – a total lunar eclipse coinciding with the full moon. The last supermoon eclipse occurred in 1982, and the next won’t occur until 2033, according to NASA.
But don’t get too taken in by the dramatic language, said Craig Joseph, the planetarium director at St. Petersburg (Fla.) College. “It’s basically the moon being covered by the shadow of the Earth, so it’s one big rock passing over another big rock,” Joseph said.
And while it’s called a “blood moon” it will more likely be a faint copper color.
“It’s sort of like all the sunsets and sunrises occurring on Earth bathing the moon in a dim light,” he said.
In Western New York, a thick cloud cover will likely impair eclipse watching, according to Jim Mitchell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Though Sunday will start out partly sunny, a new weather system moving from the south promises to usher in the clouds by late afternoon, said Mitchell, who added, “Nowhere close to here is going to get a good view of the eclipse.”
As for the workweek, Mitchell said, Monday and Tuesday will see the possibility of rain. Dryer weather is expected to arrive Wednesday and continue into next weekend, with high temperatures in the low 60s – about normal for this time of the year, according to Mitchell.
But for regional super blood moon optimists, bring binoculars, telescopes, chairs and blankets to watch the eclipse Sunday at Penn Dixie or Woodlawn Beach State Park. At Penn Dixie, the sky gazing starts at 7 p.m. at the former quarry, 4050 North St., Hamburg.
The Buffalo Astronomical Association and Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, will host such an event beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Woodlawn Beach in the Town of Hamburg.
The partial eclipse begins at 9:07 p.m., with the total eclipse at 10:11 p.m.
The public is welcome and can bring telescopes to both venues, and astronomers will have some telescopes available to view the skies. The cost is $4 per person at Penn Dixie, and parking is free. Refreshments will be available at Woodlawn Beach.
Following are the phases of the eclipse:
• Penumbra, or shadow, first seen at 8:40 p.m.
• Partial eclipse begins at 9:07 p.m.
• Total eclipse begins at 10:11 p.m.
• Mid-eclipse at 10:48 p.m.
• Total eclipse ends at 11:23 p.m.
• Partial eclipse ends at 12:27 a.m.
• Penumbra last seen at 12:55 a.m.