On January 31, if you looked into the sky, you may have noticed a moon that looks like no other. When this full moon appeared on January 31,2018, there was an event that is described as a “Blood Super Moon”. Add to this another phenomenon called Super Blue Moon: these three celestial events have not coincided for more than 150 years.
So what exactly happened? First of all, the supermoon on January 31st had a total lunar eclipse, the first to see it was from western North America, then the Pacific and East Asia.
The Moon’s orbit around our planet is tilted, so it is usually above or below the Earth’s shadow. However, according to NASA scientists, almost twice a year, the full moon tends to be perfectly aligned with the Earth and the Sun, causing the Earth’s shadow to block sunlight, which would normally be reflected on the moon.
This means that on January 31st, the Moon had lost its usual brightness and to acquire a mysterious glow, weaker than normal, mainly due to the low sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. This mysterious appearance, which is often emitted in a reddish hue due to the way the atmosphere doubles the light and explains why totally eclipsed moons are sometimes called “blood moons”.
But that is not all. Interestingly, the supermoon of January 31 was also the second full moon of January 2018. Some people tend to call a second full moon in a month a Blue Moon, which makes this phenomenon a blue super moon, (blue moons occur every two and a half years, on average) with the total eclipse of January 2018, so it was a “blue blood super moon”moon.
It is therefore the combination of these events that has not been the case for more than 150 years.
Image credits on the front page: Finnbarr Webster