Events across Penn State celebrate rare 'supermoon eclipse'

Curtis Chan
September 23, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A number of Penn State campuses are gearing up to observe this weekend’s combined “supermoon” and lunar eclipse event on Sunday, Sept. 27.

The Behrend, Mont Alto, University Park and Wilkes-Barre campuses will be hosting supermoon eclipse events on the evening of Sept. 27.

The United States and much of the world will be able to see a total lunar eclipse — when the Earth is in between the moon and the sun.

Happening simultaneously will be a “supermoon,” when the moon appears to be larger as its orbit — which isn’t a perfect circle — brings it to its closest point to the Earth. According to NASA, the moon will appear approximately 14 percent larger than normal.

“Individually, each event happens on a fairly regular basis,” said Christopher Palma, senior lecturer in astronomy in the Eberly College of Science. “What’s unique is that the two events coincide at the same time.”

Since 1900, the supermoon eclipse has happened only five times, with the last occurring in 1982, according to NASA. The next supermoon eclipse will not happen until 2033.

As the moon passes behind the Earth, observers may notice a red tint on the moon’s surface.

Darren Williams, professor of physics and astronomy at Penn State Behrend, said, “The moon may take on a reddish tint near maximum eclipse because the sunlight reaching the moon is filtered as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Penn State Behrend will host its free Open House Night in Astronomy at the Mehalso Observatory with observations starting at 9:30 p.m.

Penn State Mont Alto will offer a free talk and star party for the event. Kimberly Herrmann, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Penn State Mont Alto, will present “Darkness and Light” at 7 p.m. at the General Studies Auditorium, followed by a pre-lunar eclipse star party from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in the field behind the Multipurpose Activities Center.

Penn State’s Astronomy Club will host a free viewing event on the roof of Davey Laboratory on the University Park campus starting at 8 p.m.

Penn State Wilkes-Barre will host its free Supermoon Total Eclipse Party at its Friedman Observatory from 9 p.m. until midnight.

The penumbral eclipse begins at 8:11 p.m., the partial eclipse begins at 9:07 p.m. and the full eclipse begins at 10:11 p.m., lasting a little more than an hour.

NASA is offering a live stream of the event from 8 p.m. until at least 11:30 p.m.

Last Updated October 05, 2015