A supermoon, the full moon when Earth

Lighting Up NSC 2015: Supermoon Eclipse

The Sept. 27 total eclipse of a perigee full moon will be the first time this has happened since 1982, according to NASA.

A total eclipse of a perigee full moon will occur the night of Sept. 27, the eve of this year's National Safety Council Congress & Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Ga., and will be the first time that a supermoon eclipse has happened since 1982, according to NASA. The agency posted an article by Ashley Morrow of the Goddard Space Flight Center in which Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at the center in Greenbelt, Md., discussed it.

Supermoon is the term used to describe Earth's moon at perigee, when its orbit brings it closest to the Earth. The article says the moon looks 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter in the sky than does an apogee full moon, which is when the moon's orbit takes it farthest away from the Earth.

Discussing the upcoming supermoon eclipse, Petro said, "It's just planetary dynamics. The orbit of the moon around Earth is inclined to the axis of Earth and the orbital plane of all these things just falls into place every once in a while. When the rhythms line up, you might get three to four eclipses in a row or a supermoon and an eclipse happening." But having them coincide is relatively rare -- the last supermoon total eclipse occurred in 1982 and the next one will happen in 2033. "That's rare because it's something an entire generation may not have seen," Petro said.

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