A lunar eclipse against a background of starts. Courtesy of NASA
A lunar eclipse against a background of starts. Courtesy of NASA

A rare full eclipse of the moon when it’s closest to Earth — dubbed a “supermoon” eclipse — will be visible in California shortly after dusk on Sunday.

The moon will be at the closest point in its orbit, just over 222,000 miles from Earth, at the same time as the eclipse.

Our cratered neighbor will appear about 5 percent larger, but the human eye can’t really detect the difference. However, the moon will be near the eastern horizon, and look bigger because of an optical illusion that causes any object low in the sky to appear larger.

In any case, the eclipse is the real show. The moon will be completely in the Earth’s shadow from 7:11 p.m. to 8:23 p.m. Pacific time.

Observers will see the moon take on a reddish hue, sometimes called a “blood moon,” because the limited sunlight reaching it must pass through Earth’s atmosphere first, scattering the shorter and bluer wavelengths of light.

If you’re a surfer or beachcomber, you may also notice the slightly higher tides caused by the moon’s close approach, what scientists call the “perigee” of its 27-day elliptical orbit.

If you don’t want to go outside, NASA is providing a live stream from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles beginning at 5 p.m. and lasting until at least 8:30 p.m.

The last time there was an eclipse of the moon at its closest over the United States was more then 30 years ago in 1982. The next time will be in 2033.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.