Published: Sat, January 27, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

'Super blue blood moon' to appear Wednesday

'Super blue blood moon' to appear Wednesday

There are between four and six super moons every year, according to astronomer Richard Nolle, who coined the term in 1979. The light of all the sunsets and sunrises occurring simultaneously is reflected off the moon, making it seem red. But don't fret, we will see the entirety of the January 21, 2019 total lunar eclipse.

Wednesday's eclipse is unusual and more challenging than some because it occurs at dawn for the eastern half of the country with the moon quite low in the western sky.

On winter nights the Earth faces away from the center of the Milky Way and toward its bright spiral arm. In my opinion, the hype is the result of the large appearance any full moon has when it's close to the horizon around rising and setting times. But twice in each lunar cycle, the moon does cross into our planet's orbital plane. The Super Moon is when it's orbit around Earth takes it closest to Earth.

Lunar eclipses happen about twice a year.

"Blood moon" refers to a lunar eclipse, where the moon is bathed in a red glow. When the moon is all the way in shadow it doesn't go completely dark; instead, it looks red due to a process called Rayleigh scattering. Then, light that has traveled 93 million miles from the sun is refracted through a thin layer of air (if the Earth were a basketball, the atmosphere would only be the thickness of a few sheets of paper).

The final celestial event of the night is the one that promises to put on a show-a lunar eclipse. "Don't make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything", say Ingalls. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the "super blue blood moon" can be seen during moonrise the morning of the 31st.

The first one was December 3 past year followed by the second on January 1.

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A blue moon is when the Earth experiences two full moons in one month.

On the last day of January, the Moon will arrive full moon phase; where it will be the second full Moon during the month. But this is not your typical full moon.

It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let's break it down by its three parts: "super", "blue" and "blood". We'll only have three this winter, so the January 31 full moon won't be blue by this definition.

When will the next super blue blood moon occur?

Finally, to add the cherry on top, this will also be a supermoon. Though the moon whirls around Earth at an average distance of almost 239,000 miles, it doesn't orbit in a ideal circle. A full moon that happens near perigee is called a supermoon by some. Blue moon in both January and March also means there will be no full moon this February. The distinction is usually hard to notice unless you're looking at two pictures side by side. Despite the name it doesn't have anything to do with the color of the moon.

Just how rare is this combination of "super blue blood moon"?

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