The U.S. West Coast will be getting its own version of a rare lunar trifecta – a supermoon; total eclipse, and a “blood moon,” so named for the reddish tint that it assumes during the eclipse. According to space.com, this hasn’t happened since 1866.
Here in the East, we’ll have to settle for a partial eclipse that will be hard to see, since it occurs around daybreak on Wednesday. As bountiful consolation, however, we are being treated with a not-so-rare, but spectacular, supermoon that happens to be a “blue moon.”
This is the third consecutive full moon to qualify as “super.” The moon will be as close to the Earth as it gets, about 220,000 miles.
Supermoons appear supersized when they rise; however, this one rose behind a cloud cover at 4:30 p.m.
But as the moon has gained power and the skies have cleared, the enhanced light has been particularly dramatic, illuminating the light snow cover through the bare trees.
As for the “blue moon,” that’s a quirk of the calendar rather than an astronomical anomaly; it means simply that this is the second full moon of the month. The other one occurred on New Year’s.
We won’t have to wait that long for our next shot at a total lunar eclipse. NASA promises the next one, on Jan. 21, 2019, should be visible throughout the country.