Depending on where you live, you just might be in for a special treat if you stare into the pre-morning skies on Wednesday. Astronomers say we can expect a trifecta of rare lunar occurrences at nearly the same time, which should yield an unusual phenomenon known as a Super Blue Blood Moon.
Image Credit: Pixabay
For those that have never heard of a Super Blue Blood Moon before, it’s basically when a Blood Moon, Blue Moon, and Super Moon occur at approximately the same time. An event of this nature hasn’t taken place since 1982, and experts say it won’t happen again until at least 2037.
As for what causes each of the individual components of a Super Blue Blood Moon, well, that’s where things get interesting.
A Blood Moon is a lunar eclipse with a fancy name, and it happens when the Earth finds itself in between the Moon and the Sun. This peculiar alignment blocks sunlight from reaching the Moon and casts a shadow on the lunar surface. In many cases, shadow leaves the Moon looking red, hence why it’s called a “Blood” Moon.
A Blue Moon, on the other hand, isn’t actually blue. It’s merely a fancy name used to describe an event where a second full Moon occurs in the same calendar month. Nevertheless, it’s called a Blue Moon, and that’s why it’s included in the name: Super Blue Blood Moon.
A Super Moon is rather super, so the name isn’t as much of a misnomer as the last one we described. The term describes the Moon when it’s closest to the Earth during its elliptical orbit, which causes it to appear larger than usual in the night sky.
Collectively, these three circumstances cause a Super Blue Blood Moon, and it sure is a sight to behold. Experts say the West coast of the United States will have the best seat in the house, but most other parts of the United States can enjoy at least parts or pieces of the spectacular event.
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If you can’t grab a peek at the Super Blue Blood Moon on Wednesday, either because of your location or because of other priorities, then don't fret. NASA plans to live-stream the event online so that everyone gets an opportunity to see it.