Rare event: Supermoon phenomenon to coincide with total lunar eclipse on Sunday

Stargazers across Canada are preparing for a rare and spectacular celestial light show this Sunday night.

If the sky remains clear, those who look aloft will witness a total lunar eclipse as the Earth casts its shadow across a so-called supermoon, starting shortly after 9 p.m. EDT.

The term supermoon refers to the fact that Earth’s pale neighbour will be at its closest point to the planet, which is known as perigee.

The simultaneous nature of these lunar events has attracted a great deal of attention, but astronomers say the supermoon phenomenon is a bit overblown.

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.

Still, a total eclipse can be fascinating to watch as the moon transforms into a reddish colour over a three-hour period — and the combination of these events has happened only five times since 1900 and will not happen again until 2033.

The Canadian Press