Solar eclipse, supermoon, spring equinox: The world will see 3 major celestial events simultaneously


As the eclipse plunges part of the world into darkness on Friday (Thursday night in Hawaii), two other spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: a supermoon and the spring equinox.

While none of these events will be visible to the naked eye in Hawaii, you can still view the simultaneous events live via the online broadcast above starting at 10:30 p.m. (HST).

A supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does, The Independent reports.

The spring equinox is the time of year when day and night are of equal duration. It marks the in-between point of the year’s shortest and longest days.

The solar eclipse is a phenomenon that happens when the sun and the moon line up, so that the moon obscures the look of the sun. While the eclipse won’t be effected by the other two events, the three events are rare even when occurring individually.

A supermoon sits in the sky larger than life behind the State of Liberty. | AP Photo


There are usually between three and six supermoons per year. There are six supposedly happening in 2015, two of which have already occurred. The next will take place on March 20, the day of the eclipse. The rest come in August, September and October.

Solar eclipses can only happen at a new moon, when the moon appears to be entirely shadowed.

The incredible images of supermoons you normally see can only happen when the moon is full, though.

As a result, only the last three supermoons of this year will be visible – because the moon is new rather than full on March 20, it won’t be seen. However, it will be gliding past us closer than ever and, for areas that can view the eclipse, its shadow will be visible as it blocks out the sun.Spring equinox

The equinox is also happening on March 20. While it won’t have a discernible impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it’s certainly a part of a rare collision of the three unusual celestial events.

On March 20, the Earth’s axis will be perpendicular to the sun’s rays, which only happens twice a year at each of the two equinoxes. After that, earth will continue moving, making for longer days in the northern hemisphere.

Because of the symbolism, the equinox has long been celebrated as a new chapter or renewal. It’s also linked to Easter and Passover.

The equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it doesn’t always appear as close together as that.

A jogger runs in front of the sun near the end of a partial solar eclipse at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. | AP Photo
A jogger runs in front of the sun near the end of a partial solar eclipse at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. | AP Photo

So how can you see Friday’s eclipse?

“The dark umbral shadow cone of the moon will trace a curved path primarily over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, beginning off the southern tip of Greenland and then winding its way counterclockwise to the northeast, passing between Iceland and the United Kingdom.”

The eclipse is scheduled to start just after 10:30 p.m. (HST) Thursday.The online Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast live views of the solar eclipse through its website, beginning at 10:30 p.m. (HST).WARNING: If you’re in the eclipse zone, be very careful. Never look directly at the sun without special safety equipment; permanent and serious eye damage could result. You can build a pinhole camera or solar projector with binoculars to safely observe the eclipse.

This map shows the predicted path of the total solar eclipse for March 20, 2015.
Credit: Fred Espenak/NASA GSFC

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