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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019
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You'll be able to see something rare and amazing in the sky this weekend*

*Weather permitting, OF COURSE.

Super moon A supermoon at Glastonbury in 2011. Source: Ben Birchall/PA Images

IN THE WEE hours of Monday morning, the people of Ireland should be able to see something rare and amazing in the skies above them – a supermoon lunar eclipse.

A supermoon occurs when the earth’s satellite is closest to our planet in its elliptical monthly orbit, and makes the moon appear much larger than normal in the sky.

A lunar eclipse happens when the moon falls directly into the earth’s shadow, in relation to the sun. This is what gives the moon its beautiful red colour during lunar eclipses.

The combination of these two, however, is extremely rare. As NASA explains, there have only been five supermoon lunar eclipses in the last 115 years.

The most recent occurrence was in 1982, and if you miss it on Sunday night, you’ll have to wait until the year 2033 for the next one.

Source: NASA Goddard/YouTube

Astronomy Ireland has called Sunday night “perhaps the biggest event in the sky of the decade,” and is hosting a special watch party  at its headquarters in Rosemount Business Park in Blanchardstown.

The eclipse will be visible for just over an hour in the sky over Europe, with Astronomy Ireland predicting the high point in Ireland as 3.47 am.

That might be too late (or too early) for most of us, but one advantage of a lunar eclipse, as opposed to a solar one, is that you won’t need a telescope, or any special technology to enjoy the spectacle.

The supermoon lunar eclipse will be visible with the naked eye – that is, if the weather agrees to cooperate.

650x366_09251525_hd32 Source: Accuweather

Accuweather predicts that viewing conditions over Ireland will be “Fair” on Sunday night, with those in the south of England, and most of France and Spain having the clearest skies.

Met Éireann hasn’t offered a forecast for the eclipse, but it looks like conditions might be ok, with cloud on Sunday giving way to bright, sunny conditions on Monday.

Read: 9 breathtaking photos of the supermoon from around the world>

Read: You think the supermoon looks cool out your window? Check it out from ISS>

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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