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Howl at the supermoon

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Sunday night, look up to the sky.

If all is clear, the supermoon total eclipse will be on full display.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is staying open late to offer visitors an opportunity to see the astronomical wonder.

“We had a total lunar eclipse on Jan. 31, 2018,” said Jim Greenhouse, space science director at the museum. “We’re ending a period where we have had quite a few eclipses. It’s a coincidence of the moon being on the far side of the Earth. We won’t get another one for a couple of years.”

A lunar eclipse, captured by NASA. Sunday’s supermoon total eclipse will be visible from Albuquerque if skies are clear. (Courtesy of NASA)

A lunar eclipse happens when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.

Lunar eclipses don’t happen often, because normally the moon moves slightly over or under the shadow when it’s on the far side of the Earth from the sun.

“The total length of the eclipse is going to be one hour and two minutes,” Greehouse said. “That’s plenty of time to see it. It’s a natural phenomenon that still intrigues us.”

The next total lunar eclipse won’t happen until May 26, 2021, so this will be the last chance to experience this phenomenon for over two years.

Greenhouse said that on Sunday, the moon will also be relatively close to the Earth while it’s full, which has recently become known as a supermoon.

The entire eclipse will be visible from New Mexico, and the moon will be high in the sky.

“During the January 2018 eclipse, we had to watch from the observatory deck because we had to be high enough,” Greenhouse said. “With this eclipse, our plan is to have telescopes around the museum because you can see it from anywhere as long as the weather is fine.”

Informational videos, posters, and handouts will explain the term “supermoon,” what causes eclipses, and why eclipses make the moon turn red. A live video stream will show the eclipse from other locations around the world.

“Last year, we had about 1,200 visitors who watched from the observatory deck,” he said. “This year, we can be more spread out and be able to explain more of what is happening. Eclipses are always intriguing, because there’s so much more we continue to learn about it.”