What Does a Super Blue Blood Moon Even Mean?

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Skywatchers are in for a rare occurrence.

After 166 years, a lunar event called a “Super Blue Blood Moon,” will take place early Wednesday morning.

But what does that even mean?

According to Geoff Chester, public affairs officer at the United States Naval Observatory, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month.  The first full moon occurred Jan. 1.

“Generally blue moons occur about every two years,” he said.

Happening simultaneously with the blue moon is a total lunar eclipse. According to NASA, a total lunar eclipse happens when the whole moon enters the Earth’s shadow.  Some sunlight reaches the moon but the light goes through the Earth’s atmosphere so it filters out most of the sun’s blue light making the moon appear red. A blood moon describes a total lunar eclipse.

There’s one more catch to the name “Super Blue Blood Moon.”

A super moon is a full moon that occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear larger and brighter than usual.

In the Washington, D.C., area, residents won’t see as much as those on the West Coast Wednesday morning.

“People will begin to see parts of the eclipse just before the moon sets in the west early Wednesday morning,” Chester said. “Be up by 6:30 in the morning and look for the moon low in the western sky.”

And if you miss Wednesday’s super blue blood moon, Chester said you only have to wait 19 years, Jan. 31, 2037, to catch the next one.

Related post:

NASA Streams the Super Blue Moon Total Eclipse Live

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.


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