‘Super blue blood moon’ presents rare celestial sight

It’s been over 150 years since the last total lunar eclipse of this variety.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

If the fates will it, a lot of people in the world will have the chance to see something in the sky Wednesday that was last observed in 1866: a total eclipse of the second full moon of the month when it is at its closest point to Earth.

It’s a supermoon – as near to Earth as it ever gets. This makes the moon appear about 7% larger than normal and about 14% brighter. Interestingly, this can happen when our lunar neighbor is either its full, round self or its opposite, a tiny sliver of a new moon. Tonight, people will get its full effect.

It’s also a blue moon – which could mean that it appears bluish, but not in this case. That is a much rarer occurrence as it depends on a volcanic eruption or major forest fire flinging particles in the air of a specific size, or having a certain amount of clouds full of water droplets in the air that would act like a color filter.

“Blue” here simply refers to it being the second full moon in the calendar month, which is even slated to occur again this March. (Though the next time we’ll have two blue moons in a calendar year will be in 2037 according to earthsky.org.)
This moon is actually going to be tinged copper or red, hence its dangerous-sounding moniker, blood moon. This color change is due to the lunar eclipse that is also occurring tonight. The Earth will move between the sun and the moon for an hour or so and as the sun’s light tries to pass through earth’s atmosphere, it filters and refracts in such a way that the moon gets more red light.

The eclipse was visible at different times depending on the terrestrial location. Not everyone experienced a total eclipse. In Israel, for example, part of the brighter, bigger, redder moon was visible the entire time.