By Andrea Staples
“My favorite aspect was just how incredible the moon looked,” says Ben Chamberlain (16’).
On Sunday September 27th, the first super moon total lunar eclipse in 33 years was visible from much of the world, including Durham, NH. The eclipse began at 9:07 p.m. and the peak occurred at 10:47 p.m when the moon was completely in Earth’s shadow. The visibility of the eclipse ended at 12:27 p.m. The last time this event occurred was in 1982, and the next one is not predicted to occur until 2033.
“Seeing the moon go through different stages was beautiful and when it was covered in black I thought that was cool, but when it turned red was the best part,” says Ryan Cunningham (17’).
According to space.com, lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three different types of lunar eclipses, which are total, partial, and penumbral. In a total lunar eclipse, earth’s shadow completely covers the moon; september 27th’s moon was considered a total lunar eclipse.
“This [eclipse] only happens when the moon is in the full moon phase. It doesn’t happen every month because the alignment of the Earth and moon are not always in sync, which makes full lunar eclipses special occasions. Only about 1-3 happen per year. Partial eclipses happen more often, about 3-7 a year. A super moon occurs when the moon is closest to Earth. The moon is in perigee in this position, and because it is closer to Earth, it appears slightly bigger to us – a ‘super moon’,” says ORHS Astronomy teacher, Sara Cathey.
According to earthsky.org, there are an average of 4-6 supermoons per year. Another term for ‘super moon’ is perigee full moon or perigee new moon. Perigee means “near earth”, which is derived from the term “perigean tides” which refers to higher tides.
The eclipse only lasted around three hours, but throughout the duration of these three hours the moon went through many different stages. “In the beginning of the eclipse, it started to look like there was a dark shadow coming over the moon and then as the shadow got more and more over the moon you could start to see a reddish tint on the dark side, after about an hour and forty five minutes the whole moon was a dark red,” says Max Carpenter (19’).
In an article on the super moon total lunar eclipse from space.com, the region of visibility was from more than half of our planet. Nearly 1 billion people in the western hemisphere, 1.5 billion in Europe and Africa, and possibly 500 million more in Western Asia, had the potential of witnessing the event.
“My favorite part was seeing all the color changes. At first I watched it with the naked eye, and then I got out my binoculars. It was pretty amazing through the binoculars,” states Cathey. Many students from ORHS made time on their Sunday night to watch the eclipse including Cunningham and Kayla Bennett (16’) “We watched it at wagon hill lying on the ground and we had a gun scope to see it better and it was incredible,” says Cunningham.
Devin Kaya (17’) saw a glimpse of the eclipse but wasn’t in the best location for visibility, “There were a lot of trees covering the moon but from what I could see it looked amazing, unlike anything I had seen before,” says Kaya. Despite the eclipse not predicted to occur for until 2033, Kaya as well as others plan to watch it in the future.