Don’t miss Sunday’s rare supermoon lunar eclipse

A rare total lunar eclipse of a supermoon will occur on Sunday night.
A rare total lunar eclipse of a supermoon will occur on Sunday night. TNS

There will be an extraordinary event in Columbia’s night sky on Sunday – a supermoon lunar eclipse.

A supermoon is a full moon at its closest approach to Earth of the year. A supermoon can look up to 14 percent larger in diameter than normal, according to NASA. Combine that with a lunar eclipse, when the Earth is directly between the sun and the full moon, giving the moon a reddish tint. A total lunar eclipse is often called a blood moon.

A coinciding supermoon and lunar eclipse hasn’t occurred in more than 30 years. The last one was in 1982, and the next one won’t take place until 2033.

The total eclipse will last one hour and 12 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific. Earth’s shadow will begin to dim the supermoon slightly beginning at 8:11 p.m., according to NASA. A noticeable shadow will begin to fall on the moon at 9:07 p.m., and the total eclipse will start at 10:11 p.m.

Skies over Columbia are expected to be overcast Sunday night. But stay tuned: Forecasts can change.

The S.C. State Museum will be open from 8 p.m. to midnight Sunday for viewing the event. Members of the Midlands Astronomy Club will have telescopes set up outside the museum to view the eclipse. The museum will also stream a live view of the eclipse from the Boeing Observatory’s Alvan Clark telescope.

Admission is $5 for the general public and free for museum members. Note that eclipse viewing is dependent on clear skies.