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Cubs Will Play Sunday Under An Eclipse Rarer Than Their Playoff Appearances

The Cubs haven't made the postseason in seven years, but Sunday's lunar eclipse is rarer than that.

Al Yellon

In the photo above, taken August 31 at Wrigley Field, the moon, shown right above the clock on the scoreboard, was one day past full.

This coming Sunday, September 27, while the Cubs take on the Pirates in their series finale at Wrigley, the moon will be full. But that won't be the only lunar event taking place that evening. On Sunday, there will be a total eclipse of the moon that will begin shortly after game time and reach totality a little after 9 p.m. CT. Here's why this event is so unusual:

That’s because this lunar eclipse coincides with another astronomical event: a supermoon. That’s what it’s called when the moon’s mostly elliptical orbit brings it closest to Earth’s surface—about 220,000 miles away instead of its average 240,000 miles. During this total lunar eclipse, the moon will appear about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than Earthlings are used to seeing it.

And yes, it’ll also change color. The Earth doesn’t totally shade the moon; some sunlight trickles around the edges of the planet and gets filtered through the atmosphere, which only lets through light with longer wavelengths. That’s red. This eclipse also happens to coincide with the harvest moon, the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox.

Taken together, all these astronomical events should make for a pretty special show—and a rare one. The last supermoon eclipse was in 1982, and it won’t happen again until 2033.

This article has more info, including times when the moon first enters the Earth's shadow and the length of totality (a little over an hour). If you're in the area shown on the map in that link and it's clear in your area, you should also be able to see this eclipse. Right now the Chicago weather forecast says "Partly cloudy." Hopefully, that turns into enough clear skies so it can be seen at Wrigley Field during this key pennant-race game.

You might recall that three years ago I wrote about one of the best "forgotten" games in Wrigley Field history, August 31, 1932, where the Cubs tied the game after being down four runs in the ninth and won it after giving up four runs in the top of the 10th on a three-run walkoff homer. There had been a total eclipse of the sun visible from Chicago (at a bit less than 100 percent totality) about an hour before this game started.

We can only hope for something that exciting Sunday night. (I'll settle for a win.) Oh, and the Cubs won the National League pennant in 1932. A repeat of that this year would be awesome.