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Supermoon, total lunar eclipse leave Long Island stargazers with 'feeling of camaraderie'

An eclipsed supermoon is seen on Sept. 27,

An eclipsed supermoon is seen on Sept. 27, 2015, in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images / Michael Heiman

It was big and bright, turning a dark red right on cue.

Sunday night's supermoon, total lunar eclipse also created "a feeling of camaraderie with the world -- and how cool is that," said Sue Rose of East Meadow, president of the Amateur Observers' Society of New York.

Viewing the celestial phenomenon from her back deck, and thankful for a clear sky over Long Island, she said that society members from Hamburg, Germany, to New Mexico all were buzzing and sharing photos on the group's email hotline.

Right around 9 p.m., she said, the bright, white supermoon -- the name for full moons that appear supersized as a result of their coming closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit -- started to darken. It was "as if a really heavy, thick cloud began to cover it," and "knowing it was the shadow of the earth was really cool."

It got even more brilliant, still, she said, as the moon appeared to be a "dark, brick red" at maximum eclipse, as all Earth's sunrises and sunsets were projected at the same time onto the lunar surface.

About 800 sky watchers -- students, staff, community members -- are estimated to have turned out for a special moon viewing at Stony Brook University, lining up for a view through the school's high-powered rooftop telescope. The event was sponsored by the school's Astronomy Club and Japanese Student Organization.

Watching through his binoculars, Fred Walter, astronomy professor in the school's department of physics and astronomy, said that on a nice, clear night the moon "did what it was supposed to."

The rare celestial event was a good chance for "getting students off their iPhones and looking up into the sky."

With mostly cloudy, then partly cloudy skies in earlier forecasts for the 9 p.m. to midnight time frame, some high-level clouds did not end up obstructing the view from most areas of Long Island, said Carlie Buccola, National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.

This eclipse was so special because it's of a supermoon, which happens about once a year and can appear as much as 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than typical full moons, according to NASA.

The last time "planetary dynamics' lined a supermoon up with a lunar eclipse was in 1982, and the next one won't arrive until 2033, according to a post.

Still, the post on says that, yes, a supermoon looks larger than a regular full moon, but "it's not dramatic."

So, don't turn your nose up at total lunar eclipses of regular moons, says Walter, which occur more frequently and also offer good shows.

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