Here’s a basic astronomy refresher. When the moon is full at the point when it’s closest to the earth (perigee), it’s called a “Super-moon”. When there’s a second full moon occurring in just one month, that’s a “Blue Moon”. And when the moon is full when it falls within the Earth’s shadow, we have a lunar eclipse, or “blood moon” due to its reddish color when the eclipse is total. So what happens when all three full-moon phenomena happen at the same time? We get a “Super Blue Blood Moon”. This hilariously-named occurrence happened to astronomy buffs’ delight last Wednesday.
BBC reports that this incredibly rare phenomenon was caught by observers all over the world; such was its prominence on the night of August 31, Wednesday. From the Americas, to Europe and Asia, wherever clear skies permitted, people craned their necks to the skies to look at the extra-large red full moon. This is an event that, depending on which hemisphere the viewer resides in, would come either once in several decades or once in a few lifetimes. New York City for instance, was last visited by a super blue blood moon 150 years ago.
In the Philippines the wait only took 35 years according to The Philippine Star. This triple threat of special full moons last graced the country in late 1982. Now, it has brought Filipinos of every means out to the streets. With either their naked eyes or with telescopes on hand, astronomy aficionados went and took a look at the super blue blood moon as it hung over the sky. Over in Albay, the phenomena were even enhanced further. The red of the blood moon was made redder by the presence of volcanic ash present in the air from the weeks-spanning activity of the Mayon Volcano.
Not all areas were as fortunate. Further south, cloudy or rainy weather ruined any chances for curious onlookers to see the super blue blood moon. It’s quite unfortunate to, as going by calculations done by NASA, this cosmic occurrence will repeat only in 2037, 19 years from now. That’s going to be a long wait.
Last Wednesday’s super blue blood moon had some pretty enormous statistics. The Super-moon aspect was said to have been 7% larger in apparent size and 15% brighter, than it has usually appeared in the past. Truly, it deserved the shorter nickname “Super Bowl of Moons” by lunar scientist Noah petro from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland on Monday this week.
Photo courtesy of The Scottish Sun