A new NASA video explains why the supermoon lunar eclipse taking place Sunday, Sept. 27, is such a rare and beautiful phenomenon.
"Since 1900, a supermoon lunar eclipse has only happened five times," the video's narrator explains. "In fact, the last time you could see this event was 1982. And if you miss seeing it in 2015, your next opportunity won't come until 2033."
The event is so rare because it includes the synchronization of two semi-rare phenomena: A supermoon and a lunar eclipse.
During a supermoon, the Earth's only celestial satellite is in its normal "full moon" phase, meaning the maximum surface area is illuminated by the sun's rays. At the same time, that full moon moves into its perigee — the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth.
Now, combine that with a lunar eclipse, the phenomenon that occurs "when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow — giving it a red tint," NASA explains.
Altogether, the supermoon lunar eclipse will result in a very large, full moon that is tinted red.
The most recent occurrences of the big red moon took place in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964, and 1982.
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