super blue blood moon 2018
For astronomy lovers, the past few months have been very exciting, as we were treated not only to a rare total solar eclipse, but also nearly back-to-back supermoons.
Now we're in for perhaps the rarest treat of all: a super blue blood moon. That's definitely a mouthful.
But what exactly does it mean?
Well, it is the rare combination of a lunar eclipse, a supermoon, and a blue moon.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the above terms, let's break it down even further.
A lunar eclipse, also sometimes called a blood moon, occurs when the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned in such a way that the moon is completely covered by Earth's shadow, thus blocking it from the sun's rays. The refracted light ends up casting a reddish hue, thus the blood moon nickname. A lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon.
A supermoon is is a full moon that is closest in its orbit to Earth, giving it a noticeably larger and brighter appearance.
And a blue moon is the second full moon in a given month. And since we had our first full moon on Jan. 3, the full moon on the 31st fits the bill.
Here's a helpful diagram:
The rare trilogy of events will mark the first time since 1866 that a super blue blood moon will light up the skies:
Besides the once-in-a-lifetime lunar event being the perfect moment to break out your camera and snap some photos and videos, NASA scientists are anticipating a rare chance to study the moon like never before. Most noticeably how the moon reacts to rapid cooling.
"During a lunar eclipse, the temperature swing is so dramatic that it's as if the surface of the Moon goes from being in an oven to being in a freezer in just a few hours," Noah Petro, a deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter told NASA.gov.
Scientists will use a thermal camera to study how the moon's surface responds to the change in temperatures, hoping to further understand how the rocks and soil change over time.
Various news outlets around the world have been preparing the public for the event as well:
While Australia, New Zealand, and eastern Asia will have some of the best views, a good portion of South America, Europe, and Africa won't have a view of the event at all:
And although some may be looking to the event as the perfect time for the apocalypse, others have their sights set somewhere else entirely:
Looking forward to the countless images early Wednesday morning that are sure to flood social media. After all, things like this only happen once in a super blue blood moon.