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The Extremely Rare ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ is Currently Thrilling Skygazers

Image Source: TUMBLR

If you’re not familiar with what a ‘super blue blood moon’ is, you should be, because it is the combination of three lunar events that are already unusual: a blue moon, a supermoon, and also a total lunar eclipse.

A super blue blood moon hasn’t been seen by much of the world in a century and a half, but certain lucky people have just had the chance to see the celestial event.

The western half of the United States and Canada as well as Eastern Asia and Australia were the fortunate recipients of the absolute best view of the super blue blood moon.

The event commenced at 10:51am UTC; the full lunar eclipse started at 12:51 am UTC and reached its maximum at 1:29 pm UTC. The full eclipse happened at 2:07 pm UTC.

Unfortunately, folks in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Africa won’t be able to enjoy the red coloring to the supermoon due to daylight.

Image Source: NASA

Fortunately, the moon will seem larger and be much brighter when nightfall arrives, and it will be the second full moon in the calendar month—which is the definition of a blue moon.

A supermoon is when a full moon appears unusually large in the sky (and therefore noticeably brighter—14 percent, to be specific) because the full moon coincides with the time when the moon is closest to Earth in terms of its elliptic orbit.

A blood moon refers to the moment that happens during a lunar eclipse when the moon, being in the earth’s shadow, has a reddish hue.

Image Source: EPA

In the eastern hemisphere, people last saw a blue moon total lunar eclipse back in 1982; however, in the western hemisphere, the last blue moon total lunar eclipse was seen way back in 1866.

Image Source: EPA

If you have missed or do miss the rare and very cool lunar trifecta, we have good news for you, at least if you’re located in North America. According to NASA, there will be a lunar eclipse that will also be a supermoon on January 21, 2019. It will not, sadly, be a blue moon—it will be the only full moon of that calendar month. Still, it should be quite a sight and definitely worth taking time out to observe.

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Image Source: REUTERS

The celestial events we’ve described are interesting in and of themselves, not just when they all happen to occur at one time. The supermoon, for example, is associated with the increased risk of certain events, such as volcano eruptions and earthquakes. No conclusive link between the supermoon and those events have been found, however. The tidal force is a bit stronger, but not substantially; the tidal differences can be measured in inches.

Image Source: REUTERS

There are 12 or 13 full moons every year, and 3 or 4 of them are generally considered a supermoon. In case you’re one of those people who likes planning ahead, do know that the century’s closest supermoon will occur on the 6th of December in 2052. The closest in recent history was back in November of 2014, and there’ll be a really close one on the 25th of November in 2034. Sky gazers—be sure to mark the dates on your calendar.

Lunar eclipses occur when the moon directly passes behind the Earth, and into its shadow, or umbra. When it is a total lunar eclipse, direct sunlight is actually completely blocked by the shadow, and the only light visible on the moon is actually refracted through our planet’s shadow. This is what causes the reddish appearance and why total lunar eclipses are frequently called to as a blood moon. A typical lunar eclipse, unlike solar eclipses which only last a few minutes, last for a few hours. They are also safe to observe without any eye protection—unlike solar eclipses—as blood moons are actually duller than full moons are.

Image Source: TASS

Naturally, because of the reddish hue, many cultures throughout history have myths related to blood moons. For example, the Incans believed that the cause of a blood moon was that a jaguar happened to be eating the moon, and that was why the moon looked red.

Image Source: TASS

The Mesopotamians believed that seven demons were attacking the moon when it appeared red. They also believed that the demons were attacking whatever king they had at the time, so they would have someone pretend to be king in order to fool the demons.

As stated above, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. The expression has nothing to do with the color of the moon, as it doesn’t typically appear blue. No one is sure exactly how the phrase came to be, but it most likely dates back centuries.

The next blue moon will occur (in certain places on Earth) on the 2nd of March.

H/T – Source

Written by Kevin Barrett

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