Tomorrow, Friday 20th March is set to be a powerful day involving three rare astronomical phenomena. There will be a Solar Eclipse, and a Supermoon, and it will fall on the Spring Equinox. These would generally cause ripples in celestial circles, but the combination of the three makes it particularly interesting. Slooh Observatory Manager Paul Cox says, “You could call it a cosmic coincidence.”
What is a Supermoon?
A Supermoon is the name given either a full moon or a new moon, which occurs while the moon is closest to the Earth in it’s orbit. It appears around 15% larger than usual at this time. It will be a mere 222,192 miles away (357,584 kilometers). Between 3 and 6 Supermoons occur each year, and 2015 is hosting 6 of them. Tomorrow’s Supermoon will be a New Moon though, which means it is entirely in shadow, but it will provide a slightly longer opportunity to view the eclipse.
“It gives us the ability to see a rare supermoon,” Slooh Observatory Manager Paul Cox says. “This is the one opportunity to see a truly new moon.”
What is the Spring Equinox?
Friday marks the Spring Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere and the Autumnal Equinox for the Southern Hemisphere. This is the point in the calendar when days and nights are of equal duration. It is exactly mid-way between the longest and shortest days. During this time the Earth’s axis will be perpendicular to the Sun’s rays, before the planet begins to tip, making the days shorter in the Southern hemisphere and longer in the Northern hemisphere. The Spring Equinox is considered a time of new beginnings by some cultures. At each equinox the sun passes the Earth’s equator.
What is a Solar Eclipse?
This is a rare event, when the sun and moon line up perfectly, so that the moon blocks the Sun from our view. They can only happen when there is a new moon (when it is almost invisible, totally in shadow). Tomorrow the moon will completely obstruct the Sun’s light in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, leaving a shadow as large as 90 miles in some areas.
Copyright © 2002-2013. All rights reserved