The earth will get between the sun and the moon on Sunday evening Sept. 27, creating a total lunar eclipse for people living in North and South America, chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College said.
The eclipse will start at 7:11 PDT as the sun and moon are exactly opposite each other and the Earth shadows the moon, Astronomy chair Andrew Fraknoi said.
Fraknoi said a lunar eclipse, unlike a solar eclipse, can be seen without special equipment that prevents eye damage.
He said at 8:23 p.m. the eclipse will end, early enough for kids to get enough rest for school Monday.
He said the best time to start watching is about 6:50 p.m. when much of the moon will already be dark.
But amateur stargazers will still be able to see the moon because Earth's atmosphere will refract sunlight onto the moon, he said. The moon will be a dull brown or reddish color, he said.
The exact color and darkness of the moon will depend on what's in the Earth's atmosphere, such as volcanic ash, pollution and clouds, Fraknoi said.
He said this eclipse will be a bit unusual. It will happen an hour after the moon reaches its closest point in its orbit around the Earth, making the moon appear slightly largest than usual, he said.
The effect is commonly called a supermoon, he said.
Fraknoi said parents and older siblings can teach younger ones a once-disputed fact during the eclipse. "Watch the Earth's shadow as it covers the moon," he says to ask younger members.
"What's the shape of the shadow?"
The shadow is round is the answer, indicating to people more than 2,000 years ago that Earth is round, he said.