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Super Blue Blood Moon Coming Wednesday, An Event Last Witnessed 150 Years Ago

Todd Bush took this photograph of the last Supermoon on December 4, 2017 that was setting directly over Beech Mountain’s 5506’ summit A Supermoon occurs when the moon is closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit during full or new moon. Photo by Todd Bush

By Luke Weir

January of anno Domini two-thousand and eighteen will end beneath a serendipitous trifecta of lunar conditions last seen longer than a blue moon ago.

Early to rise High Country skygazers may spot the setting sliver of a super blue blood moon—better seen in the Western United States, Pacific Islands, or afloat the Great Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California—the likes of which was last seen March 31, 1866, according to sources.

A blood moon is commonly used to describe a lunar eclipse, which is when the moon passes through earth’s shadow. Because the moon will not be exposed to any sunlight, it will instead reflect back the earth’s light, tinting the already super and blue full moon a shade of red, like blood.

Contrary to the azure moniker, a blue moon is simply regarded as the second full moon in one calendar month, which ranges from 28 to 31 days. Mathematically, there are about 29.5 days between full moons, so a blue moon only occurs once every 2.7 years, according to astronomy and mathematics. The first full moon of the month occurred Jan. 1.

Super moons occur when the moon is closest in its orbit to Earth—known as its perigee—making the full moon appear larger than usual, according to astronomers. There are between four and six super moons every year, according to astronomer Richard Nolle, who coined the term in 1979. The full moon on Jan. 1 was also a super moon, and appeared closer to Earth than the one to come.

To recap, the second full moon—the blue moon—of January, which also happens to be the second super moon of the new year, will orbit into Earth’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse, or blood moon, best visible to those in the Western United States and other lands bordering the Pacific Ocean: Super blue blood moon.

Call it a super blue blood moon, a blue-blooded super moon, a super bloody blue moon, or any combination therein—perhaps a more concise title for the upcoming full moon would be ‘very rare.’ The last time this super blue blood moon was observed was more than 150 years ago, and there seems to be a limited understanding of when the