A total lunar eclipse won't happen again until 2018. So get ready. You're in for the double spectacle of a swollen "supermoon" bathed in the blood-red light of a total eclipse. The one scheduled this Sunday is the first for the 21st century.
McCrady said this particular lunar eclipse occurred when the moon was at "perigee", or when the moon was at the closest point on its ellipse.
As the full moon makes its closest approach to the Earth, it will appear only 14 per cent larger than normal, which will be barely perceptible to the naked eye. The umbra is the dark area where most of the eclipse takes place.
"Because the orbit of the moon is not a flawless circle, the moon is sometimes closer to the Earth than at other times during its orbit", said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the Earth's shadow.
Another unofficial term associated with the event is the phrase "blood moon".
"Another interesting factor is that this is the fourth total lunar eclipse in something called a tetrad of eclipses", Magee said. To get an even better idea of how rare the occurrence is scientists reveal that there have only been five instances in the 20th century of a supermoon lunar eclipse happening. To achieve supermoon status, you need a full moon.
This Sunday's eclipse was preceded by a partial solar eclipse on September 13.
The phenomenon will be well underway by the time the moon rises in Alaska.
The window of total eclipse falls between 10:11 p.m. and 11:23 p.m. This is when the moon will appear orange or red, if the sky condition permits viewing the moon. Tickets are sold out, but Nichols said that the planetarium will allow those without tickets to set up telescopes on its grounds and even provide a series of small telescopes manned by museum staff and volunteers, at no cost. "It will be fun".