Supermoon eclipse captivates San Diegans

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SAN DIEGO - Stargazers, night owls and space observers were stunned by the eclipse of the supermoon Sunday evening.

San Diego and much of the world saw skies graced by a bright, big moon encapsulated in a total lunar eclipse late Sunday evening.

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The lunar combination happened for the first time in 30 years.

The supermoon, which comes around once every year, will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter in the sky that evening before it is engulfed by an eclipse for more than an hour.

As if that wasn't already a spectacular sight, this eclipse is the fourth and final in the so called "blood moons," a phrase that has become popular to describe the four lunar eclipses we have seen in 2014 and 2015. Scientifically this is known as a "lunar tetrad."

Another supermoon eclipse will not occur again until 2033.

How to watch the supermoon eclipse

The total lunar eclipse lasted about one hour and 12 minutes and was seen in North and South America, as well as Europe, Africa, parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific, according to NASA.



Why this event is special

Since the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle, there are times when the moon is closer to our planet. This is known as perigee. Sunday's supermoon was technically a perigee full moon, the closest full moon of the year, NASA says.

"There's no physical difference in the moon," said Noah Petro, scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "It just appears slightly bigger in the sky. It's not dramatic, but it does look larger."

Lunar eclipses are common and happen twice a year.


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