In just a few hours, a rare astronomical event will be taking place: a super blood blue moon. The science geek at AUGUSTMAN (a.k.a moi) explains what the heck it is and how you can see it.
What is it?
A supermoon refers to a point during a lunar cycle when the Moon is closest to the Earth (perigee). Since the orbits of our heavenly bodies are slightly elliptical rather than perfectly circular, there are points when they come closer and therefore appear bigger. Tonight’s Moon will be roughly 14% bigger and 30% brighter.
In addition, tonight’s full moon is also the second full moon of the month. (The lunar cycle is 29.53 days relative to the Earth and Sun.) That is called a blue moon (hence the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’).
Finally, tonight also sees a total lunar eclipse. This is when the Earth is positioned in between the Sun and Moon. As the Moon goes into the Earth’s shadow, the light you see emanating from it comes from light that is refracted through the Earth’s shadow. As a result, it appears red, also known as a blood Moon.
When does it start?
The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS) has confirmed that the lunar eclipse will begin partially from 7.48pm. The full eclipse starts at 8.51pm and ends at 10.07pm. Just nice for a slow walk after dinner.
Where can you see it?
Pretty much all across Singapore and Malaysia, although those in the East may see some cloud cover later tonight. For Singaporeans, our advice is to avoid areas with high light pollution. Fort Canning, Mount Faber and the West Coast area are all good options, as are any secluded areas.
The Science Centre and TASOS will be hosting an observation event at the Observation Grounds of the Science Centre. That’s where we’re headed. If you’re lazy to head outdoors, given the weather, you can watch it on YouTube, where NASA will be live-streaming it starting in an hour.
How do you see it?
You don’t need any special equipment, although if you’re looking for bigger details, a handy option would be a pair of binoculars or a telescope. Or you can do what we plan to do: grab a bottle of wine, some cheese and add some Yan Wagner for atmosphere.
Who can see it?
Almost all East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and the west coast of the United States will be able to watch the super blood blue moon. This isn’t going to happen again for another 20 years, approximately. The last was 150 years ago. So don’t miss out.
Main image in article is by Sean Korbitz, posted on Imgur.