On January 31st, 2018 an extremely rare astronomical event occurred. This was the “Super Blue Blood Moon”. It has this name because at the time of the event the moon was being affected by a combination of a few different sub-celestial events.
First off, a “Super Moon” is when the moon appears to be larger and brighter because it is at its perigee while it’s full. A perigee is just a term for when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit, this combined with the moon being full creates a Super Moon.
Although to the amateur star-gazer the effects of a Super Moon can be hard to see with the naked eye, the Super Moon appears to be 7% larger, and 16% brighter than an average full moon. There has been a large amount of Super Moons recently. There was one in November that was the closest Super Moon to the Earth since January 26th, 1948. “Super Moon” is not the technical name, it is “Perigee-syzygy”.
A “Blue Moon” is the term that refers to when a full moon appears twice in one month. Full moons appear roughly every 29.5 days so it is highly unlikely that a full moon will appear twice in one month, hence the saying “Once in a Blue Moon”. Blue Moons are actually not that rare and happen about every 2.7 years. Typically, Blue Moons do not actually appear to be Blue. Although, moons actually can appear to be blue. If there is enough dust in the air it can act as a sort of filter that makes the moon appear to be blue.
A “Blood Moon”, or lunar moon, occurs during a lunar eclipse where the moon is eclipsed by the earth from the sun. This causes the moon to turn red since the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, which keeps the moon from getting almost any sunlight to reflect from the sun. The small amount of sunlight the moon does get comes from the atmosphere of the planet.
This causes the moon to have a red-orange color in appearance. The reason for the color is the same reason that sunrises and sunsets have their color along with the sky. It’s called “Rayleigh scattering” a process in which small particles disrupt the particles of radiation causing them to change in color.
If you missed the Super Blue Blood Moon, then you won’t be seeing it again anytime soon. The last one that was observable in the U.S. was in 1866. When asked what he thought about the Super Blue Blood Moon, student Troy Shepherd said “I thought that it was pretty nifty.” He said that he saw it for only five minutes and “From our area [Bonners Ferry] it was red with a bit of blue.” John Stevens told me that he thought that it was “Really cool. Once in a lifetime experience I’d say.”
Picture 1 Captions
Picture 2 Captions
Lead in: Student sees special moon
Student observes rare astronomical event
By: Luke Krautkremer