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Super purple Moon! January 30, 2018

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.

It’s been about 6 months since the last set of eclipses, so its time for the next set, starting with tomorrow morning!

This first eclipse of the year will be a total lunar eclipse, visible primarily over the Pacific. Since the Earth’s atmosphere preferentially scatters blue light, Earth’s shadow tends to be fairly red in color, though the shade depends on a lot of other things, like the amount of smoke and ash from fires or volcanos suspended in the upper layers. As the Moon passes through the shadow, it takes on a reddish hue. For this reason a total lunar eclipse is often referred to as a blood moon.

The Moon can only pass through Earth’s shadow when the Moon, Earth and Sun are lined up, in that order. But that is also a full moon! So a lunar eclipse is automatically a full moon. A blue moon is the second full moon in a month, something that happens about once a year. This year’s blue Moon falls this month. Tomorrow in fact!

So, tomorrow’s blue moon is also a lunar eclipse. And what do you get if you put blue and red together? Purple!

But wait, there’s more!

Blue moons don’t happen very often, so we need something else to differentiate special Moons. How about when the full Moon is also at it’s closest point to Earth in its orbit? It will look a bit bigger than normal then, so we call that a super moon.

So tomorrow, be sure to check out the super purple Moon!

Alas here in Ann Arbor, it will probably set before it’s noticeably red… But you can watch it on NASA TV!



1. February 15 solar eclipse | Sideways Orion - February 12, 2018

[…] is the second of two in this eclipse series. Hopefully you caught the super-blue-moon eclipse on January 31!  The next series starts with another partial solar eclipse over Australia in mid […]

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