Rare supermoon eclipse will be visible Sunday

A “super blood moon” will be visible on Sunday evening when a total lunar eclipse coincides with a supermoon.

The moon will seem much larger, closer and brighter than usual and will appear to be “blood red” before the eclipse.

The rare astronomical event has not happened for 33 years, and will not happen again for another 18 years.

“Sunday will present the rarest supermoon,” Cayman Islands Astronomical Society President Chris Cooke said. “Assuming it’s not cloudy, it’s going to be extremely visible. You just have to stick your head outside the front door really [to see it].”

The full moon will be at its closest point in its orbit around the Earth, making it appear 14 percent larger and 33 percent brighter than other full moons. At the same time, the Earth will line up directly between the moon and the sun, causing the moon to be in the Earth’s shadow and creating a lunar eclipse.

Sunday’s lunar eclipse will be the fourth and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four lunar eclipses happening at six-month intervals. Sky-watchers may have noticed such eclipses over the past year-and-a-half.

The blood moon is named for the reddish hue it takes on as light is cast from the sun around the edges of the Earth, filtered through the atmosphere and shines on the moon.

Throughout history there have been many conspiracy theories about blood moon events. Some have found connections between the events occurring on the same dates as religious holidays or special religious events. Some preachers in the United States have even claimed that huge earthquakes will destroy the Earth within days after this year’s blood moon event.

“It’s all hype,” Mr. Cooke said. “It will be quite spectacular, but it won’t be the end of the world.”

The eclipse will begin a little after 7 p.m. The best time to view the event will be when the full eclipse begins around 9 p.m. The maximum eclipse begins at 9:47 p.m. and the full eclipse ends at 10:23 p.m. The entire event will end just after 1 a.m. Monday.

“You can’t miss it,” Mr. Cooke added. There are no special viewing events planned, but anyone can enjoy the eclipse in their own backyard.

“It’s one of those events that you hardly need an observatory for – just a pair of binoculars or even the naked eye,” said Bill Hrudey, director of the observatory at the University College of the Cayman Islands.