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Eclipses and Other Phenomena: Lunar Phenomena

What is an Eclipse?

 Credit: NASA/JPL-via Kieth Burns

Lunar Eclipse

  • ​During a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow falls upon the Moon; they always occur during a full moon
  • When the moon appears a reddish-brown color, it's due to a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering
  • French astronomer André Danjon develped a 5-point scale for evaluating the luminosities of lunar eclipses
  • Lunar eclipses typically occur at least twice a year, and 228 will occur in the 21st century alone

Eclipse Videos

Understanding Lunar Eclipses (1:58)
Lunar Eclipse Essentials (1.46)



Credit & Copyright: Noel Munford (Palmerston North Astronomical Society, New Zealand)  

Lunar Eclipses: What Are They & When Is the Next One?., November 2017

Eclipses Were Regarded As Omens in the Ancient World., August 2017

Eclipse 101.  NASA, 2017

Exploring lunar and solar eclipses via a 3-D modeling design task.  Science Scope/NASA, October 2016

How to Get your Kids into Star Gazing.  Time, August 2016

Lunar Eclipse Myths From Around the World.  National Geographic, April 2015

David H. Levy's Evening Stars: The Bard and astronomy*.  Astronomy Magazine, July 2009

Earth's transmission spectrum from lunar eclipse observations*.  Nature, June 2009

* = available in LHL print collection only

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls  

2017's only supermoon to occur on Sunday, December 3. Is it really that super? (blog), December 2017

Dark side of the moon: Motorcycle deaths linked to full moons.  Princeton University, December 2017

What Is a Supermoon?., December 2017

Moon, super-moon, planets of the solar system and star Vega: brightness and size.  Journal of physics and astronomy, January 2017

Observe the Moon: Supermoon.  NASA

'Supermoon' Science: NASA Explains the Closest Full Moon Until 2034., November 2016

Eclipse of the Super Moon*., September 22, 2015

Micro moon versus macro moon: Brightness and size., July 2015

The truth behind the Super Moon*., July 2014

Inconstant Moon: The Moon at Perigee and Apogee.  Fourmilab Switzerland, May 1997


* = available in LHL print collection only

Viewing a lunar eclipse doesn't require special eyewear or safety precautions; because the eclipse is at night, it's completely safe to watch with the naked eye. A telescope isn't even necessary.

A pair of binoculars will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration brighter and easier to see. A standard pair of 7x35 or 7x50 binoculars work fine.

 Read Erika Rix's articles on Astro Sketching at

   Shoot the Supermoon Like a Pro.  NASA, June 2016

  How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse., September 2015

Slooh - "a community of fellow Earthlings looking through powerful telescopes into outer space"; live and recorded events

Lunar Eclipse 2018 on Facebook

@AstronomyMag (Astronomy Magazine)

@AstronomyKC (Astronomical Society of Kansas City)

Sky & Telescope Magazine stargazing apps

The Virtual Telescope Project - broadcasting both January events live online

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               Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani


  • Scientific name is perigee-syzygy (pronounced peri·gee syz·y·gy); aka super perigee moon, perigee new moon or macro full moon
  • The moon appears up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual (but there's only a small change in its actual distance)
  • "Supermoon" was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979; originally describing both a new and a full moon, it now refers just to a full moon at perigee;
  • The January 31st supermoon is also a super "Blue Moon", since it's the second full moon in the same month

Supermoon Videos

ScienceCasts: A Supermoon Trilogy (3:42)

Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (1:20)