The Blue, the Blood, and the Super Moon


photo credit: Blood Moon from Kerry Park in Seattle l imgur

In 2017, the greatest phenomenon that hit our western hemisphere sky was the fully visible solar eclipse during which millions observed. Social media feeds were flooded with pictures and comments for an observed once in a lifetime opportunity. This year, another lifetime marker is hitting our night sky on Wednesday, January 31st. A super blue lunar eclipse (or blood moon), will be fully visible especially to those living on the west coast and one you definitely don't want to miss.

The Breakdown
In today's times, a blue moon is defined as a second full moon in the same month that happens once every 3 years. Full moons have a designated name per month like Wolf Moon in January. When there's two, the second name goes blue. However, the moon doesn't actually appear blue so how the name was chosen is up in the air - no pun intended.

Even though the moon won't appear blue, it will appear red due to the lunar eclipse. As Earth is in between the Sun and the Moon, sunlight passes through the Earth's atmosphere casting a red light upon the moon called a "blood moon."

If the blue blood lunar eclipse seems super, it will be - literally. A super moon is when a full moon's orbit is closest to Earth making this moon shine up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter.

The last time this hat trick was visible from North America was in March 1866 - that's 150 years for those who don't care to do the math. The next will happen on December 31, 2028, but only partially visible on our side of the world.

2018 super blue blood moon photo credit: NASA/Rami Daud

Depending on how dedicated you are to a rare phenomenon, you'll need to set your alarm pretty early to view it. You don't need any special glasses, and it lasts a quite a bit longer than the few minutes of a solar eclipse. The schedule in Seattle (or PST) is as follows:

Partial umbral eclipse begins: 3:48 AM
Total eclipse begins: 4:52 AM
Greatest eclipse: 5:30 AM
Total eclipse ends: 6:08 AM
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 7:11 AM

Just in case you're wondering…
If you follow the moon in terms of astrology, then prepare yourself for your emotions to pack a punch. This occurrence is in the fire sign of Leo, which is extremely rare and hasn't happened for hundreds of years. Your emotions may get pretty revved up during this time and old wounds may resurface. Full moons are a time for making wishes and new beginnings, and now more than ever is the perfect opportunity to make your goals, plot out a plan, and take charge of putting it all into motion.

But that's not all….
This year, the night sky has two buns in the oven. This upcoming moon will definitely be the star child, but the blue moon in March is still special. One blue moon may happen every three years, but two in the same year only happens every 19 years. This also means February's Snow Moon won't be making an appearance this year. Hopefully that doesn't leave the month of love too blue - pun intended.

Want to know what else to look for in 2018? Check out this article from National Geographic and get ready to look to the stars, moon, and planets.

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