Not since 1982 has moon moved through reddish shadow cast by Earth in space
MANATEE -- Hope for a clear sky this weekend. Between Sunday night and early Monday, a supermoon lunar eclipse will take place.
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The rare phenomenon last occurred in 1982.
The lunar eclipse means the moon will move through a reddish shadow cast by the Earth in space, according to Jeff Rodgers, director of the Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton.
"In this particular case, this eclipse is happening at the same time that we also have a so-called supermoon. A supermoon occurs because the moon's orbit around the Earth is not perfectly round -- it's slightly elliptical -- which means that sometimes its orbit is closer to the Earth and sometimes it's far away," Rodgers said. "It's really more accurate to call it just a slightly tiny little bit bigger moon."
According to NASA, the supermoon eclipse will last 1 hour and 11 minutes, and will be visible in North and South America, Europe, Africa, parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific
Weather permitting, people will see the supermoon after nightfall, and the eclipse will cast it into shadow beginning at 8:11 p.m. NASA reports the total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. and peaks at 10:47 p.m.
"The beauty of something like this lunar eclipse is that you don't need to be in any place special to see it," Rodgers said. "Any place you can look up and see the moon is just fine."
NASA predicts the next supermoon eclipse will occur in 2033.
Brian Hawkes, president of the Local Group of Deep Sky Observers -- an astronomy club in the Bradenton-Sarasota area -- said he has been looking forward to the supermoon lunar eclipse for some time.
"You don't need a telescope to view it. You'll notice the moon will turn an orangey red color for the eclipse," the 53-year-old Sarasota resident said. "Every eclipse is different."
Hawkes' group plans to gather Sunday at the rest area on the south side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge for the supermoon lunar eclipse -- but it's supposed to be cloudy and rainy this weekend, he pointed out.
"It's part of living in Florida. We're in rainy season still," Hawkes said. "Most astronomy is dictated by the weather anyway."
Still, he said, his group never gives up. "There are times we'll be out and it'll be raining and we hope that there will be a parting in the clouds and we'll be able to see it a little bit," he said of observing the night sky. "We always look for a clear night but we're kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature. ... The eclipse is just one extra thing we get to look at."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.