Blood moon. Supermoon. Total lunar eclipse.
When these effects coincide (as they will Sunday evening, 10:11 p.m. Eastern time), it’s a very Big Deal.
For all the scientific reasons you’re already hearing everywhere. And one non-scientific, personal reason you’ll hear ᴏɴʟʏ from me.
First, the science:
✦ Total lunar eclipse: The earth comes directly between the sun and moon, casting its shadow entirely over the latter.
✦ Blood moon: The moon remains faintly visible in bloody light. This is indirect sunlight, refracted by and through the earth’s atmosphere.
✦ Supermoon: Not only is the moon full — it appears 14 percent larger, and 33 percent brighter, than normal, because it’s is at its closest approach to earth. (That’s perhaps the biggest big deal, scientifically, about the timing of this eclipse.)
This combination hasn’t happened since 1982. It won’t happen again till 2033. If clouds don’t interfere, it should be fun to watch. Binoculars or a telescope will help. Unlike a solar eclipse, which may blind you if you gaze at it without special filters, you can watch a lunar eclipse directly.
But I promised you a personal angle not of the science variety:
The words “blood moon”, “supermoon”, and “lunar eclipse” irresistibly put me in mind of a DC Comics super-villain who for years has intrigued me: Eclipso.
Eclipso launched in 1963 as the evil alter-ego of a good-guy solar-energy scientist, Bruce Gordon. Their connection was similar to that of Mr. Hyde to Dr. Jekyll, or the Hulk to Bruce Banner. Any sort of eclipse would transform Gordon into Eclipso — even a large object crossing in front of a spotlight. Eclipso then would wreak havoc till someone banished him with a flashbulb or some other strong light-burst.
As DC’s writers reworked him, Eclipso has grown steadily stronger. From his base — a castle on the moon’s dark side — he sought to possess (“eclipse”) the minds and bodies of all the earth’s super-heroes, then combine their powers with his to destroy the planet. His ultimate goal: to “kill God”. (I suppose megalomaniacs, even in real life, tend to bite off more than they can chew!)
If you aren’t a comics fan, as I am, you may not find Eclipso and his ilk as entertaining as I do. Either way, grab your ‘nocs and a camera for Sunday’s lunar night-show. I’ll bring the popcorn!