A “supermoon” lunar eclipse, a very rare occurrence, will be visible across Ireland this weekend.
On Sunday night and Monday morning the moon will be at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit and will also go through a total eclipse. This will be the first time in 30 years an eclipse of this sort has been seen. The next will not occur in our skies again until 2029.
David Moore from Astronomy Ireland told the Irish Independent “It is one of the most spectacular sights in nature.
"A blood red moon will be hanging in Irish skies just before dawn [on Monday].
He added that “Ireland is one of the best places in the world to view this beautiful sight.”
This weekend the moon is at “perigee”, its shortest distance from the Earth (226,000 miles). It will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than when it is at its furthermost point, according to NASA.
During a lunar eclipse the moon appears dusty red in color as sunlight is scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere. These “blood moons” are often viewed as bad omen by superstitious people. In fact some religious groups and believers in astrology believe it marks the approach of the end of days.
In their book “Timeless Wisdom of the Celts,” Steve Eddy and Claire Hamilton write about how the Celts created their “festival of light” to welcome an eclipse, which they were capable of predicting.
This year, whether the supermoon eclipse is a good omen or not the folks at NASA will be taking advantage of this unique opportunity. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will measure the moon's surface temperature as it is plunged into darkness to learn more about the structure of the moon and its composition.