Heavenly show to feature trifecta of super blue moon, eclipse

The super moon appears in the sky in Cairo, Egypt, in this file photo taken October 17, 2016.

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The moon will stage a rare triple show on Wednesday when a blue super moon combines with a total lunar eclipse that will be visible from western North America to eastern Asia, U.S. astronomers say.

The overlap of a blue moon – the second full moon in a calendar month – with a lunar eclipse while the moon is at its closest approach to the earth is the first such celestial trifecta since 1982, said Noah Petro, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington.

“Just having these three things simultaneously occur is unusual,” Petro said in a telephone interview. “A blue moon is not extremely rare but it’s a nice coincidence that it happens in conjunction with these other two.”

The moon will reach its fullest on Wednesday at 8:27 a.m. EST (1327 GMT).

A blue moon normally occurs about once every 2-1/2 years. This month’s first full moon was on Jan. 1.

The blue moon also will be a super moon, which occurs when it is at or near its closest point to the earth, or perigee. A super moon is about 14 percent brighter than usual, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

Wednesday’s moon will be the second closest of 2018 after the one on Jan. 1.

The lunar eclipse, which takes place when the moon passes in the earth’s shadow, will last almost 3-1/2 hours. It will start at 6:48 a.m. EST (1148 GMT) and peak at 8:29 a.m. EST (1329 GMT), NASA said.

The total eclipse will be visible from the western United States and Canada across the Pacific Ocean to most of Australia and China, as well as northern polar regions. The eclipse will give the moon a reddish color known as a blood moon.

“I’m calling it the purple eclipse because it combines the blue moon and a red eclipse,” Rich Talcott, a senior editor at Astronomy magazine, said by telephone.

Petro said the eclipse is also a scientific opportunity for researchers in Hawaii, who will study what happens to the moon’s surface when it quickly drops from 212 Fahrenheit (100 Celsius) in sunlight to minus 279 F (minus 153 C) in darkness.

The speed of cooling can show what the surface is made of, such as rock or dust, he said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)

Small U.S. towns brace for rare solar eclipse, and crowds, in August

Books and a cardboard cutout representation of the moon eclipsing the sun on August 21, 2017 are seen at a bookstore in Jackson, Wyoming, U.S. July 12, 2017. Picture taken July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Ann Saphir

By Ann Saphir

DRIGGS, Idaho (Reuters) – Hyrum Johnson, mayor of the tiny city of Driggs, Idaho, expects some craziness in his one-stoplight town next month when the moon passes in front of the sun for the first total solar eclipse in the lower 48 U.S. states since 1979.

The town of 1,600 people in Teton County, just west of the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains Teton Range, is getting poised to receive as many as 100,000 visitors on Aug. 21 for the celestial event, said Johnson, who was both excited and worried.

Driggs is one of hundreds of towns and cities along a 70-mile arc, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, that are in the direct path of the moon’s shadow. The full eclipse and the sun’s corona around the disk of the moon will be visible for a little more than two minutes only to those within this narrow band.

Driggs and other towns like it are scrambling to prepare for the onslaught of curious visitors.

“We expect gridlock,” Johnson, 46, said as he drove his pickup truck through town.

Tucked amid seed potato and quinoa farms, Driggs normally enjoys a more languid pace of life, with highlights including $5 lime shakes sold on balmy summer days at the corner drug store. But with the impending eclipse, planning has kicked into high gear.

To make sure nothing more than the roads will be clogged, Johnson took shipment this month of two massive generators that can be deployed at key spots along the city’s sewage system to keep it flowing in case of a power outage.

“We are telling our residents to hunker down,” Johnson said.

And while Johnson would have preferred to have taken his family backpacking during the time of the eclipse, he’s planning to stay in town in case anything goes wrong.

‘ALL HANDS ON DECK’

Over on the east side of the Teton Range, authorities are preparing for the day “kind of like a fire,” said Denise Germann, a public information officer at Grand Teton National Park. Estimating crowds is nearly impossible, she said, but “it is an ‘all hands on deck’ event.”

The 480-square-mile park’s campsites are completely booked, and it expects visitors to pour in from all over, including the bigger Yellowstone National Park, just north of the path of totality. Grand Teton will waive its $30 entry fee to keep traffic from backing up.

Many of the park’s 465 summer staff will be posted at trailheads and along roads to warn visitors to brace themselves for failed cellphone service, jammed roads and scarce parking, and to urge them to carry plenty of food and water, as well as bear spray to ward off wildlife.

In nearby Moose, Huntley Dornan said the county had warned business owners like him to expect four times the usual number of customers in the days leading up to the eclipse.

“I find that hard to believe, but I’m not going to be the guy who has his head in the sand and didn’t plan for it,” said Dornan, who runs a restaurant, deli, gas station and wine shop, the last place to get supplies before entering the park from the south.

Dornan plans to park a 48-foot refrigerated trailer stocked with a couple of thousand pounds of pizza cheese, 150 pounds of ground buffalo meat, a few hundred tomatoes, and gallons of ice cream, among other provisions for the expected hordes of tourists.

On eclipse day, only people who paid as much as $100 each to attend his viewing parties will be allowed access to the narrow road on his property that offers a clear view. Security will keep others out.

About 14 miles down the highway, in Jackson, Wyoming, Bobbie Reppa expects the family business to be flush with demand. She and her husband run Macy’s Services, the only purveyor of portable toilets for miles. The 50 she normally has on hand simply aren’t enough.

“We’ll be bringing them in from as far as Ogden, Utah,” she said.

(Editing by Ben Klayman and Bernadette Baum)

Supermoon delights world’s star gazers in full moon, eclipse combination

The rising supermoon is seen over the church of Saint-Hilaire in the village of Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine near Nantes, western France November 14,

By Patrick Johnston

SYDNEY (Reuters) – From Beijing to Berlin, star gazers around the world admired the supermoon – the largest, brightest full moon in nearly seven decades – as it made its way across the skies on Sunday and Monday.

In Australia, some sky-watchers climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to get a closer view of the moon as it ducked between the clouds over the city. Astronomers said it was closer to Earth than at any time since 1948.

The supermoon, also known as a blood moon, was produced when the shadow of Earth cast a reddish glow on the moon, the result of a rare combination of an eclipse with the closest full moon of the year.

For more than an hour on Sunday night and early on Monday morning, Earth’s shadow blanketed the full moon as the planet passed between the sun and the moon.

The brilliant white glow of the moon slowly transformed into a dim red, a coloring caused by Earth’s atmosphere scattering sunlight into the shadow.

“I think the last time I can remember this sort of (activity) is when I was very small, when Hale-Bopp came. Back then my parents took me (to watch),” said Hsieh Wei-Ting, 36, who lined up with scores of people in Taipei to look at the moon through telescopes in the Taiwanese capital. “It was like climbing a mountain to look at the stars.”

People set up their cameras as they wait for the supermoon in Madrid, Spain

People set up their cameras as they wait for the supermoon in Madrid, Spain November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

In New York City, the Chrysler Building lit up when the supermoon set behind the Art Deco-style skyscraper, and photographers captured the moon rising over the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington D.C.

In Boston, real estate agent Jamie Iacoi filmed video from his roof deck on Sunday.

“At one point, the planes were flying right through the middle of the moon. It was so cool to see in person,” Iacoi said.

Spectators lined up in France, Israel and Germany to watch the moon rise behind famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Dormition Abbey, and the Brandenburg Gate.

The full moon also shone over Jakarta in Indonesia and Thailand’s Bangkok while in the Philippines, park-goers watched the spectacle in Manila.

The next supermoon-lunar eclipse combination will not happen until 2033.

(Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore and Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Sunspot Cluster Launches Fresh Burst During Eclipse

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught a rare and fantastic sight last week:  an eruption of new m-class solar flares during a partial solar eclipse.

The moon made a 2 and a half hour voyage between the sun and the SDO, the longest eclipse or “solar transit” ever recorded by the SDO.

Sunspot 1967, an older spot renamed from Sunspot 1944, began to erupt on January 30th with m-class flares.  NASA officials said the sunspot is one of the biggest in the last 10 years.  The spot is wider than seven Earths placed together.

The radiation from the flares is not pointed near the Earth so it will have no impact at all on communications and will not be a threat to astronauts in the International Space Station.

The medium level bursts are coming from the same area where a larger, much more dangerous X-class flare launched in January.  That flare threatened the International Space Station astronauts with radiation to the point that a rocket delivery mission to the station had to be delayed for one day.

At least seven fireballs were captured by NASA cameras during the eruption.