In a rare occurrence, the moon in the evening sky today will come to its nearest to the earth, appearing not only a shade brighter but also bigger than usual.
“Today’s moon in the evening and night sky is five per cent bigger and around 12 per cent brighter than the average full moon,” said Dr Debiprosad Duari, director of M P Birla Planetarium, Kolkata.
Moon is now roughly at a distance of 3,56,800 km from the earth, a little closer than the average earth-moon distance of 3,84,000 km.
The rare celestial event is often described as a “Super moon” by astronomers and skywatchers.
On its elliptical path around the Earth, moon sometimes comes closest to the earth, the portion being called perigee.
“Today’s moon is at the perigee and also it happens to be full moon,” Duari said explaining the reason of the large appearance of the moon.
Although Indians could enjoy the ‘Supermoon’ but they are going to miss a total lunar eclipse since the totality of the eclipse will start after 7 am tomorrow.
“But people from North and South America, well almost everybody, and people in Europe will see the moon as bigger and also ‘blood red’ in colour. Because during a total lunar eclipse moon does not become black, but gets a reddish-copper tinge which popularly is mentioned as blood red,” the expert on celestial bodies said.
This happens because the red light of the sun’s white light gets least scattered by the atmosphere and falls on the moon during an eclipse making it look blood red, he added.
This rare phenomenon of a supermoon and blood-red moon together was last seen during 1982 and will recur only in 2033.