The heavens are really pulling out all the stops in 2018. On Wednesday, there is an opportunity to see a pretty amazing moon trifecta: super, blue, and blood.
A super blue blood moon is a great opportunity to understand what those terms actually mean. In my mind, I see witchcraft and people running wild under over the hills, having orgies and so forth in the moonlight. But they’re actually scientific terms, as explained by The Washington Post.
Disappointingly, blue moons are not actually blue. The term actually means the second blue moon of the month, which is rare; they usually only occur once every 2.7 years. Next time you say “once in a blue moon,” you’ll know you mean every 2.7 years. The more fun piece of information is that a “blood moon” gives the moon a red hue as it passes through the Earth’s shadow. At certain points there will be a full lunar eclipse.
Supermoons are the most complicated to explain, and also the most common special moon:
It is a supermoon because it will turn full at the closest point to Earth in its orbit, known as perigee, appearing slightly bigger and about 14 percent brighter than normal. Perigee will occur Tuesday, the day before full moon, when our planet and the moon will be 223,068 miles apart. Supermoons are fairly common, on average happening about every 14 months. This one to end January is actually the third in a row, following supermoons on Jan. 1 and Dec. 3, 2017.
The frequency of these three moon-omenons varies, of course, but for them to coincide is extremely rare. The last time a blood moon happened at the same time as a blue moon in the Americas was in 1866. So, how do you see this thing?
Newsweek spoke with NASA planetary geologist Sarah Noble, who gave a great ballpark for what hour to stare at the sky, assuming fine weather:
The best time to look out for a supermoon is shortly after sunset, when the moon is low on the horizon. The moon tends to appear larger to the human eye at this point, although no one really knows why. The weather will also affect how big and bright the moon looks Wednesday, Noble noted.
But the best way to see the total eclipse is to live on the West side of the country. On the East coast, the eclipse will not reach totality before the moon sets. But you can watch it stream live via NASA and the Virtual Telescope Project, and check where you are on the eclipse map here.
source: Gizmodo.com by Aimée Lutkin