Sunday September 22, 2019
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Supermoon To Meet Total Lunar Eclipse Soon

As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles away.

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Lunar eclipse, Moon
Earth starts to cast its shadow on the moon during a complete lunar eclipse seen from Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 28, 2018. VOA

Here comes a total lunar eclipse and supermoon, all wrapped into one.

The moon, Earth and sun will line up this weekend for the only total lunar eclipse this year and next. At the same time, the moon will be ever so closer to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual — a supermoon.

“This one is particularly good,” said Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan. “It not only is a supermoon and it’s a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long. It’s about an hour.”

The whole eclipse starts Sunday night or early Monday, depending on location, and will take about three hours.

It begins with the partial phase around 10:34 p.m. EST Sunday. That’s when Earth’s shadow will begin to nip at the moon. Totality — when Earth’s shadow completely blankets the moon — will last 62 minutes, beginning at 11:41 p.m. EST Sunday.

cHINA, MOON, shopify
A moon is seen behind the construction site of China Zun in Beijing’s central business area. VOA

If the skies are clear, the entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America, as well as Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and the French and Spanish coasts. The rest of Europe, as well as Africa, will have partial viewing before the moon sets.

During totality, the moon will look red because of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why an eclipsed moon is sometimes known as a blood moon. In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon.

So informally speaking, the upcoming lunar eclipse will be a super blood wolf — or great spirit — moon.

In the U.S., the eclipse will begin relatively early Sunday evening, making it easier for children to stay up and enjoy the show. Plus the next day is a federal holiday, with most schools closed. But the weather forecast for much of the U.S. doesn’t look good.

Moon, Lunar
The moon is pictured behind a Ferris wheel on the pier in Santa Monica, California after a total lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon,” Oct. 8, 2014. VOA

Parents “can keep their kids up maybe a little bit later,” said, Hartigan, who will catch the lunar extravaganza from Houston. “It’s just a wonderful thing for the whole family to see because it’s fairly rare to have all these things kind of come together at the same time.

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“The good thing about this is that you don’t need any special equipment,” he added.

Asia, Australia and New Zealand are out of luck. But they had prime viewing last year, when two total lunar eclipses occurred.

The next total lunar eclipse won’t be until May 2021.

As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles (357,300 kilometers) away. The Feb. 19 supermoon will be a bit closer and one in March will be the farthest. (VOA)

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India’s Space Agency Locates Lunar Probe that Was Feared Lost as It Was Making its Final Approach

The Vikram lander was just two kilometers above the moon's South Pole Saturday when ground controllers lost contact with the spacecraft

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India, Space, Agency
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) employees react as they listen to an announcement by organizations's chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan at its Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network facility in Bangalore, India, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. VOA

India’s space agency says it has located the lunar probe that was feared lost as it was making its final approach towards the surface last weekend.

The Vikram lander was just two kilometers above the moon’s South Pole Saturday when ground controllers lost contact with the spacecraft. The Indian Space Research Organization said Tuesday the Chandrayaan-2 probe has discovered the lander on the surface, but had not yet established communications with Vikram, named after Vikram Sarabhai, the scientist regarded as the “father” of India’s space program.

If the probe landed intact, India will join the United States, Russia and China as the only nations to achieve a soft landing of a spacecraft on the moon. It will also become the first nation to attempt a controlled landing on the moon’s South Pole.

India, Space, Agency
India’s space agency says it has located the lunar probe that was feared lost as it was making its final approach towards the surface last weekend. Pixabay

The $141 million Chandrayaan-2 mothership entered lunar orbit nearly a month after it was launched aboard India’s powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark Three rocket.  The Vikram lander was designed to release a small rover that will roam the moon’s surface in search for signs of water, and to assess its topography and geology.

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Chandrayaan-2 was a huge step up from India’s previous space explorations, such as its first moon mission in 2008 and a mission to Mars in 2013 that involved sending a spacecraft to the Red Planet. (VOA)