Sunday night's astronomical show will be special, and Assistant Professor of Physics Kristen Thompson will make sure her students don't miss it. Thompson will lead her students in a lunar eclipse viewing party on front campus beginning at about 9 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 27.
Thompson notes that this "harvest-supermoon-mega lunar eclipse" (as some people are calling it) will be remarkable in the apparent size of the moon and the duration of the eclipse.
That's because this eclipse coincides with a "supermoon," which happens when the moon's mostly elliptical orbit brings it closest to Earth's surface—about 220,000 miles away instead of its average 240,000 miles. The last supermoon eclipse was in 1982, and the next won't happen until 2033.
The moon will start darkening at 8:10 p.m. Eastern time, and will start to pass through the Earth's shadow at 9:07 p.m. It will be completely shaded for about an hour, starting around 10 p.m.
Professor Thompson is teaching two astronomy courses this semester, and has written an electronic book on introductory astronomy.
To learn more about this rare event, listen to an interview with Thompson on WBT Radio.