Harvest moon to deliver a super spectacle Sunday

The “blood moon” is seen turning red, during a lunar eclipse over Paraguay in 2014.

It doesn’t get much bigger than this. An eclipse of the harvest moon takes place just after 9 p.m. Sunday, with the moon about as close to Earth as it gets — a “supermoon.” So it will be, weather permitting, as big an eclipse as you can see.

This is pretty rare stuff. The last time a supermoon total eclipse happened was 1982, according to space.com. The Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the fall equinox, gets eclipsed — the Earth passing between it and the sun — only once every nine years or longer, according to College of Charleston astronomer Terry Richardson.

What could go wrong? The sky. As of Thursday, the National Weather Service in Charleston was calling for mostly cloudy conditions. “Maybe we’ll catch a little break,” said meteorologist Steve Rowley, with the Weather Service.

As celestial “big” shows go, this one would be just a taste. About two years from now, in August 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will take place almost exactly above the Lowcountry. Those are pretty rare themselves; the last time one occurred here was in 1970. They tend to be spectacular.

Wayne Grooms of West Columbia left school at the University of South Carolina on March 7, 1970, to watch the total eclipse from the S.C. Highway 27 overpass of Interstate 26 outside Ridgeville — because that was said to be spot-on beneath it. His car was among about 20 pulled over for it.

“We were right at the edge of Four Holes Swamp. What really made it interesting, in the middle of it you could hear the wildlife stirring. Birds started to fly. Roosters started crowing,” he said. “The light was as close as I’ve ever seen in my lifetime to the evening light you get in the Arctic, an indirect glow of light.”

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