BOSTON (CBS) – Bucket astronomy list…
Lunar Eclipse (Blood moon)…check
Super-Blue-Blood Moon…Ha! Gotcha!
That is exactly what is happening (for some) on Wednesday, January 31.
I’ll wager a bet that not many of you have ever seen all three together. In fact, the last time it happened anywhere on Earth was way back on December 30, 1982. For those of us in North America, there has not been a combination of a supermoon, blue moon and total lunar eclipse since 1866 (just after the Civil War)! Mathematically speaking a super-blue-blood moon only happens about once in every 2,380 full moons, roughly once every 265 years.
Now before we get carried away, unfortunately I have to break some bad news. You will NOT be able to see the total lunar eclipse here in New England this go around. In fact, you won’t be able to see it anywhere in the United States due to the moon setting as the eclipse is beginning. You’ll have to catch a plane to Asia or Australia to catch it this go around…not worth it by the way…it’s cool but not exactly a total solar eclipse.
So, Wednesday’s event is simply a super-blue moon for us.
This is still a pretty rare astronomical event! By my calculations, the combination of a supermoon and blue moon only happens about once every 133 full moons, roughly once every 11 years…not bad!
Before we go any further, a couple reminders…
What is a supermoon? When a moon is both full and at perigee (meaning closest to Earth in its orbit) it is considered a supermoon. About 25% of all full moons are supermoons. It will appear as though it is 14% larger and 30% brighter than a typical full moon. Many times supermoons come in bunches…and in fact, this our third supermoon since December.
What is a blue moon? Simply the second full moon in a month. About 3% of all full moons are blue moons. Full moons are separated by a little more than 29 days, so clearly you need to get one very early in the month in order to have time for a second. Our last blue moon was in July of 2015 and our next one will be on Halloween in 2020.
Why do they call it a blood moon? When a moon is totally eclipsed it takes on a reddish glow while in the Earth’s shadow. (red = blood) Again, no blood moon for us this go around.
So on Wednesday, January 31 when our moon rises in Boston at 5:19 pm, take a look up and admire the super-blue moon, let’s hope our skies are clear!
And if you are a bit upset about missing the eclipse, you only have to wait a year (January 21, 2019) for our next total lunar eclipse, which also happens to be a supermoon!