On the night of Wednesday, January 31, 2018, skywatchers enjoyed a rare lunar event that combined three rare phenomena – a blue moon, a super moon and a total eclipse. The result was spectacular, and photos from beguiled sky-watchers have flooded in. Here are some of the best.
A super blue blood moon is the result of the three things happening at once. Not only is it the second full moon in January, but the moon will also be close to its nearest point to Earth on its orbit, and be totally eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. The last time these events coincided was in 1866, 152 years ago.
Last seen from Australia in December 1983, the spectacle was coined a ‘super blue blood moon’ by NASA. The celestial show is the result of the sun, Earth, and Moon lining up perfectly (or near perfectly) for a lunar eclipse, just as the Moon is near its closest orbit point to Earth, making it appear “super” large.
During the height of the eclipse, known as the umbral period, direct sunlight is blocked by the Earth’s shadow. Light, however, does still reach the moon, refracted through the shadow. Blue wavelengths are scattered away, leaving primarily those at the red end of the spectrum, giving a rusty glow to the moon.
Unlike solar eclipses, which are typically visible in narrow bands across the globe, lunar eclipses are pretty much visible everywhere during the night. Indonesians observed a total lunar eclipse phase using a telescope at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta.
The US will be able to look forward to another blood moon eclipse on January 21, 2019. The next total lunar eclipse will occur later this year, on July 27. This will not be visible from North America, but it will put on a show for much of the rest of the world. The next blue blood moon, won’t be seen fora decade. Until then, happy sky gazing!
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