Letters to the Editor – September 2, 2015

Mark your calendar for September 27th “Super Harvest Moon”

On Sunday night, September 27th, there’s going to be a celestial sky show that hasn’t happened for a while. All of us long-time stargazers are looking forward to it because it involves our nearest neighbor in space.

The name of the full moon of September is the “Harvest Moon”, but at 9:47 p.m. it reaches “Perigee”, the closest point in its orbit to earth at only 221,754 miles. (Average lunar distance is 238,855 miles). This also makes it a “Supermoon”, the largest appearing, brightest, and closest full moon of this year!!

But the “Super” Harvest Moon won’t be so bright this month because at the exact moment that it would normally be 100% sunlit – – it will be totally eclipsed!

According to Sky & Telescope, the partial eclipse phase starts at 9:07 p.m. as the moon slowly enters the “Umbra”, the darkest part of the earth’s shadow. Total eclipse occurs at 10:11 p.m. and mid-eclipse is at 10:47 p.m. Totality ends at 11:24 p.m. as the moon begins to exit the shadow. The moon is completely out of the shadow at 12:27 a.m.

Optical aid isn’t needed to watch this event, but binoculars or a small telescope will give a neat close-up view of the moon as it glides into the shadow. The moon will travel through the southern part of the shadow; so during mid-totality what color will we see? Will the moon appear bright orange, light red, or will it be a darker red? We’ll have to watch and see!

So everyone, if it’s clear on the 27th, let’s all head outside to enjoy Mother Nature at her best.

Francis Parnell
Darlington, SC

Author: Duane Childers

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