So-called super blue blood moon to reveal itself in Arizona this week
A magical event is about to occur over the skies of Arizona on Wednesday morning.
The event is no ordinary total lunar eclipse, but rather an amazing series of rare celestial alignments.
Some say that we have not had an event like this in more than 150 years, but is that totally correct? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.
A “super moon” is basically a media term to denote the timing of a full moon occurring closest to a lunar position known as perigee. That is, the closest that the moon gets to Earth in a calendar month.
This will be the second-closest full moon to Earth in 2018: Wednesday’s full moon will be within 223,000 miles of Earth.
Add that to the fact that many call the second full moon in a month a “blue moon” — and then add to the celestial seasoning a total lunar eclipse, and you get the so-called “blood moon,” due to the color of the moon in the deepest part of the eclipse.
Many in the media have been describing this as a rare, once-in-a-150-year period for all these elements to come together, but in reality, it depends where you are on the Earth.
This may be true for U.S. time zones, but globally, the last time that these events occurred was on Dec. 30, 1982, if you were not in the United States.
The last time that this type of event occurred for the eastern hemisphere of the globe was on Dec. 30, 1963.
So we can go back in history to look at the last time that U.S. time zone observers saw this event: March 31, 1866 — some 152 years ago.
If you want to catch a glimpse at this celestial event, look at the moon starting around 4:40 a.m. local time, as the left edge of the moon begins its journey into the dark central shadow of the Earth.
The moon will be only some 25 degrees high in the western sky, so plan to view it from a decent area that does not have trees or buildings in the way. You will need this later as the moon gets lower and totality begins.
The moon will begin to take on a dark red color, which will get more pronounced as you look towards the upper portion of the lunar globe. This is due to the top of the moon passing deeper into the shadow of Earth.
Things will get darker and more colorful with the moon, as it then reaches the start of the total phase at 5:51 a.m. local time.
During the next 77 minutes, the moon will stay in this eerie reddish/orange glow, which is caused by light streaming around the edges of the Earth, producing a refracted red colored light on the lunar disk.
At this time, the moon goes from only 14 degrees high in the west, as totality begins and will be only some 7 degrees high when mid-totality will occur at 6:30 a.m. local time.
Totality will end at 7:08 a.m. local time as the moon finally sets and says goodbye at 7:29 a.m. local time. It will set at azimuth (290 degrees), some 20 degrees to the right of true west.
For those with a more specific knowledge of astronomy, the moon will lie some 20 degrees to the right of the bright star, Regulus in Leo. The famous star cluster, M44, the Beehive cluster, will be some 5 degrees to the upper right of the totally-eclipsed moon.
This is the general region in the sky which the sun took, during the famous total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017.
If you miss this total lunar eclipse, we get another treat on Jan. 21, 2019, but the next super blue blood moon will not occur for us until Dec. 31, 2028.
Enjoy this event with friends and family and take a lot of photos!
Here is your very own January sky map to help locate many of the objects in our skies.
- Settlement of Arizona border case, but another goes to trial
- Snow reaches southeast Arizona as storms stretch into another day
- Hail hits northwest Valley as rain moves through Phoenix area
- Flagstaff breaks one-day record as snow blankets high country
- US agents: 103 Central Americans surrender at Arizona border