A rare phenomena occurred last night and what is probably rarer is that I managed to photograph it – a Super Blue Blood Moon. Although the forecast was for the moon to be visible from 5pm yesterday until 8am this morning, the skies above Naas were quite cloudy except for an hour around midnight.
A ‘Super Moon’ is simply a moon that is closer to the Earth than normal. As a result, it appears bigger and brighter in the sky.
A ‘Blue Moon’ is also simple and means the second full moon in a calendar month.
Although we use the phrase “once in a blue moon” to indicate rare occurrences, blue moons are not quite as rare as the famous phrase suggests: the next Super Blue moon is due to appear on March 31. However, the next one after that is October 2, 2020.
Last night’s moon was also be classed as a ‘Blood Moon’
which is when sunlight passes through the atmosphere above the Earth, casting a dark colour across the surface of the moon and happens thanks to a total lunar eclipse across Australia, Asia and parts of the USA. As is the case with all total lunar eclipses, the Earth will cast a darkened red-tinted shadow across the face of its natural satellite, hence the term “blood moon.”
This is quite a rare phenomena as the last ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ happened in 1866, and according to Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore it won’t happen again until 2037.
We in Ireland witnessed the Super and the Blue aspects of the Moon last night but the Blood aspect was not visible to the Irish observer
Great to get some photos as the moon appeared through the clouds over the trees out back.
I’ve always been fascinated by the planets and stars although I never pursued the interest past reading or TV programmes. However, I do watch out for forecasts of “extra-terrestrial” events. In January of this year I actually managed to photograph the Super Blue Moon.
Last night however the Blood Moon was the focus. Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, explained the “blood moon” phenomena in today’s paper:
It’s called a blood moon because the light from the sun goes through the Earth’s atmosphere on its way to the moon, and the Earth’s atmosphere turns it red in the same way that when the sun goes down it goes red.
The longest eclipse of the 21st Century!
The promise of a glimpse at Mars, travelling closer to Earth than it has done since 2003, and looking like an orange-red star prompted a plan to drive to Mayo designated as “a dark sky reserve” to watch the spectacle.
But by Thursday the weather forecast was for clouds and I felt that Kildare offered as much of a chance of a gap in the clouds as anywhere and the trip west was cancelled.
After weeks of glorious sunshine and clear blue skies, Friday started very dull and very overcast: not a break in cloud cover at all. By evening it had started to rain. So instead of Mayo, I hit for the Curragh.
I drove the motor way to Newbridge – exiting at each bridge to see if the view skywards unhampered by buildings would yield any glimpse of the reddening sky! No Luck! Onto the Curragh where I stood alone as sheets of rain drenched me (our Mediterranean Summer didnt encourage having rain gear!). There was no other sky gazer to be seen. However, undaunted I stayed until 11.30 when the phenomena was to finish and drove home to download images of what was invisible in Ireland
The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.