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Lunar event of the decade occurs tonight

Posted at 7:39 PM, Sep 27, 2015

If you look to the night sky Sept. 27, you'll get to see a Super Harvest Moon total lunar eclipse, which also happens to be the final eclipse in a lunar tetrad.

If that sounded like a whole lot of overwhelming gibberish, let's break it down one item at a time.

What is a supermoon?

As the moon orbits around the Earth, its distance from our planet varies by roughly 30,000 miles.

When a full moon occurs at the perigee, or closest point to Earth, we call it a supermoon.

According to NASA, one of these supermoons will appear up to 14 percent larger than a moon at its farthest point.

What is the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, or the first day of fall and the day of the year when the amount of day and night are approximately equal in length.

The Harvest Moon got its name because it also occurred around the same time farmers were busy harvesting their crops before the cold and frost of winter arrive.

The full moon at the end of September would allow farmers and workers to gather crops well after sunset thanks to the light provided by the moon.

What is a total lunar eclipse?

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth and into its shadow.

The Sun, Earth and moon must all be aligned for this to occur.

Lunar eclipses typically last for a few hours, and this eclipse will be visible in its entirety across the eastern half of the United States.

What is a lunar tetrad?

A lunar tetrad is a series of four total lunar eclipses in a row with no partial lunar eclipses in between. Each of those total lunar eclipses is separated by six other full moons.

These lunar tetrads are fairly rare events with the next one occurring in 2032-2033.

If you don't want to wait until then, look up beginning at 9:07 p.m. EST Sept. 27. About an hour later, the moon will be fully eclipsed.

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