Rare lunar phenomenon lights up Downeast sky

ELLSWORTH — The Sunday night sky was clear with a 100 percent chance of a rare phenomenon: a total supermoon lunar eclipse.

The event occurs when a supermoon rises simultaneously as a total lunar eclipse. Downeast stargazers witnessed the event starting around 10 p.m., with the peak occurring at 10:47 p.m.

“The fact we had clear weather was a wonderful thing,” said James Cormier of Sullivan, an amateur astronomer of 30 years. “We had a great night for it.”

Supermoons appear when a full or new moon is at the closest point in its orbit to Earth. The moon looks larger to us, giving it a super-sized appearance. Supermoons look about 13 percent bigger than an average moon, Cormier said.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are all in a line, and the Earth is between the sun and moon. As the moon fell into the shadow of the Earth, it gave off a reddish glow.

“What you get is that great orange ball in the sky; it’s rather dim, but it’s beautiful,” Cormier said.

The previous total supermoon lunar eclipse was in 1982, and there won’t be another until 2033.

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