Today is a special day! Not only is it the Autumn Festival (Mooncake Day), a lunar harvest (and moon-viewing) festival celebrated by the Chinese and Vietnamese. It is also the last “supermoon” full lunar eclipse for the next 18 years. A “supermoon” happens when the moon is at the closest point in its orbit around Earth. From Earth’s surface (where most of my readers live) the moon thus appears 14% larger and 33% brighter than other full moons. When such a supermoon is eclipsed by the shadow of Earth, the event is known as a “blood moon” by imaginative neopagans and by fundamentalist Christians who hope the world will end soon (and by bloggers desperate for hits). The blood moon designation comes not just because of cultists’ violent fantasy, but because the moon takes on a red tinge during the event.
Bloodmoon eclipses are rare and there have been none for 33 years—then suddenly four in short succession: tonight’s eclipse will be the final of the batch. I missed the last bloodmoons thanks to clouds and scheduling mishaps…and who knows what I will be doing 18 years from now (hopefully showing beautiful paintings in a fancy gallery or directing cyborgs on a floating city above Venus…but probably decomposing or still working as a lackey in title insurance). Tonight’s event begins at 9:07 PM EST and maximum umbra (“shadow”) occurs at 10:48 PM.
I baked a turkey and made an almond pie for the celestial event (although dark clouds are already swirling on the horizon). Hopefully some of you will join me on rooftops, observatory turrets, and in special moon-viewing pavilions to watch the celestial show!