Today, the 31st of January 2018, the world will witness a rare combination of astronomical (and partly astrological) occurences, the Total Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse. It is a mouthful but what is it exactly?
Total Lunar Eclipse
A lunar eclipse is when the Moon passes through the shadow of the planet Earth during its full moon phase. We only have 12 full moon phase each year (not counting the blue moon) and it means only 12 potential times a lunar eclipse can occur. If the Moon is completely covered by the Earth’s shadow, it is called a total lunar eclipse.
A TLE has the sunlight completely blocked by Earth. The only light that reaches the Moon is a refraction through the Earth’s shadow, and the Earth’s atmosphere filters and refracts all colours but red and orange. This makes the Moon looks red, orange, or red-orange, and is called in layman’s term as blood moon.
Quite simply, a blood moon is the total lunar eclipse of the Moon. As was explained above, the light from the Sun that is refracted from the Earth reaches the Moon, and only the red and orange light reaches it. A blood moon or TLE is not that common. One can not say it is rare because it is not, the media simply does not care unless it’s combined with another astronomical occurence. But it is not as common as any other type of lunar eclipses.
From the short list below, it shows how TLEs or blood moons are not rare but also not common. No TLE occured on 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2017 for example. Then there were two in 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2015. Yes, there will be another TLE later this year on July 27th.
- 2007-03-03 & 2007-08-28
- 2011-11-15 & 2011-12-10
- 2014-04-15 & 2014-10-08
- 2015-04-04 & 2015-09-28
- 2018-01-31 & 2018-07-27
A total lunar eclipse or blood moon is one and the same event. However, it is simply dramatic for laymen to see Total Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse or Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse.
A blue moon is when there are two full moon in a month; or the third of four full moon in a season. When there are 13 full moon phases in a year, there is a blue moon somewhere there, as we commonly only have 12 annually. This is where the phrase once in a blue moon originated from. It means an event that is rare for a blue moon is indeed rare.
The Moon will not turn blue, although it may happen but for different reasons. A blue moon occurs every two to three years and this has been observed since man tracked the times, although of course they did not call it blue moon then. There are different theories on where and how it became to be called a blue moon, regardless, it does not mean the Moon will turn blue on a blue moon.
The term super moon is astrological in origin. The official technical terminology is perigee syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system or full (or new) Moon at perigee. However, it is natural for man to prefer the easiest and coolest label, and for the media to pick the most attention grabbing name, hence, super moon even though it is astrological.
With that out of the way, a super moon is a full moon or new moon when the Moon is at its closest distance with Earth. The Moon appears larger than usual for those humans with a keen eye and observational powers. It is as simple as that.
Super Blue Blood Moon, What is it exactly? by Yuki (雪) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Legal Notice.