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Space fans, a super blue blood moon is coming our way

Published on 29 January 2018|
1 min read

No, the Super Blue Blood Moon is not the name of an anime character (although it could very well be).

by Stanley P, Carrybeans

Prepare your binoculars and telescopes, Malaysians. This Wednesday, we will have the chance to witness a rare celestial event — a super blue blood moon. This may sound strange because it is in fact a fusion of three lunar phenomena we’ll be experiencing in the same night.

You read that correctly. We’ll be able to see a convergence of the supermoon, blue moon and blood moon phenomena on Wednesday evening. Again, no. These are not names of new Sailor Moon characters.

So, why is it such a big deal?

Well, the last Super Blue Blood Moon occurred on 31st March 1866, which was 152 years ago. So, unless you were alive in 1866, this will probably be the only time you’ll ever get to see this amazing sight.

 

Here comes the science-y stuff!

“Fine, I get it. The Super Blue Blood Moon is a big deal. But… I still don’t get it. How is it different from the usual moon that we see everyday?”

If you’re asking this question, buckle your mind’s seat belt because it’s time for a Carrybeans lesson about the moon.

 

First, let’s learn about the supermoon…

This cool phenomenon refers to times when a full moon or new moon happens around the same time that the moon is closest to the earth, causing it to appear around 14%  bigger than usual. The exact criteria might differ according to who you are asking, but if the distance of the Earth’s centre to the moon’s centre is less than 360,000 km, it is safe to say that what you’re seeing is a supermoon.

Supermoons occur around 3-4 times each year.

 

And now, for the blue moon!

No, the name does not refer to the actual colour of the moon! A blue moon occurs when there are two instances of a full moon in a single calendar month. Here are some fun facts about blue moons:

#1: You can actually see the moon appearing bluish under certain atmospheric conditions. However, it is not considered a scientific blue moon. A little confusing, but you’ll get it!

#2: The phrase “once in a blue moon” is based on this lunar phenomenon. And blue moons are rare, occurring once every two to three years.

#3: There are actually two definitions of a blue moon — one is a seasonal blue moon and another is a monthly blue moon (for more on that, read here).

Finally, we introduce the blood moon

Credits: Kerry Barbour

A blood moon happens when the moon takes on a coppery reddish hue due to something called Rayleigh scattering. Basically, during a total lunar eclipse, the moon doesn’t receive light directly from the sun.

However, light from the sun still reaches the moon indirectly thanks to the Earth’s atmosphere. The light scatters throughout our atmosphere, and all the dispersed light from our sunsets and sunrises reaches the moon at mid-eclipse.

 

Okay, I’m interested now. How do I see the super blue blood moon?

Yes, space is interesting. So what’s happening now is that all three phenomena are converging on the same night! If you’ve been enlightened and now wish to catch a glimpse of the super blue blood moon on Wednesday, here’s all the information you need.

First, you’re in luck because no matter where you are in Malaysia (unless there’s heavy cloud cover, smog or haze), you have the opportunity to see it.

According to the National Planetarium, the eclipse can be seen from 7:48 PM to 11:11 PM. The total lunar eclipse will occur from 8:51 PM to 10:07 PM, with the maximum phase at 9:29 PM.

The best place to see the moon will be facing eastward and wherever you can see the sky clearly. The fewer obstructions and less light pollution, the better.  Some suggestions include coastal areas, hilltop areas, highlands, and the top floor of taller buildings.

 

If you’re in KK, head on over to Tun Mustapha Tower

Yes, more good news! Yayasan Sabah Group and the Sabah Stargazer Association will be holding an observation event at the Tun Mustapha Tower (also known as the Yayasan Sabah Tower) on Wednesday.

Participation is free and mobile telescopes will be available for participants to use. Visit Sabah Stargazer’s Facebook page for more details!

Before you get your hopes sky-high, we can only witness the eclipse if the weather permits. Sadly, there’s a high chance we may not be able to see it as wet weather is expected throughout the week. However, all of us at Carrybeans have our fingers (and toes) crossed for a clear night sky.

Have you seen either a supermoon, blue moon or blood moon before? Let us know in the comments below! 

One of the Beanies just bought three Kinos toy boxes recently, and we must say that it was a very interesting experience!

Featured Image Credit: Ulrike Bohr

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