Super-dooper double dipper
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Super-dooper double dipper

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Stargazers got a double celestial treat Sunday evening when a total lunar eclipse combined with a so-called supermoon. It was the first time the events have made a twin appearance since 1982, and they won't again until 2033.

The moon's orbit around the Earth isn't a perfect circle. At its most distant it is about 252,000 miles away; at its closest, about 222,000 miles. At its closest it appears about 14 percent larger and about 30 percent brighter than at its farthest.

When the moon's closest approach to the Earth combines with a full moon it is known as a supermoon.

On Sunday night there was a supermoon combined with a full lunar eclipse visible in the United States, Europe and western Asia as the sun, Earth and the moon lined up, throwing the moon into Earth's shadow.

The moon doesn't disappear completely during a lunar eclipse. Some of the sun's light slips by the Earth as it is scattered by the atmosphere. Since the red waves of light mostly pass through the atmosphere, the moon takes on a reddish appearance during an eclipse.

— Associated Press


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