Rare super blue blood moon brightens skies

ASSOCIATED PRESS
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
Published
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

The moon put on a rare cosmic show Wednesday: a red-blue moon, super big and super bright.

It's the first time in 35 years a blue moon has synced up with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon because of its red hue.

Hawaii and Alaska had the best seats, along with the Canadian Yukon, Australia and Asia. The western U.S. also had good viewing, along with Russia.

At the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, hundreds gathered on the lawn in the wee hours under clear skies. Traffic was backed up more than a mile around the observatory. Sky-gazers also lined the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, some snapping photos and others reclining in the sand, their faces turned upward.

A bird pictured on a tree branch during supermoon in Turkey's Konya province (AA Photo)
A bird pictured on a tree branch during supermoon in Turkey's Konya province (AA Photo)
Supermoon sighted in Istanbul (AA Photo)
Supermoon sighted in Istanbul (AA Photo)
Supermoon pictured in Turkey's eastern Van province's Gevaş district  (AA Photo)
Supermoon pictured in Turkey's eastern Van province's Gevaş district (AA Photo)
Supermoon seen above Istanbul's famous July 15 Martyrs' Bridge (AA Photo)
Supermoon seen above Istanbul's famous July 15 Martyrs' Bridge (AA Photo)
Supermoon sighted in Düzce province (AA photo)
Supermoon sighted in Düzce province (AA photo)
Supermoon sighted in Istanbul (AA Photo)
Supermoon sighted in Istanbul (AA Photo)
A couple holds hands while watching supermoon at the historical Değirmenler Hill in southern Muğla province's Bodrum (IHA Photo)
A couple holds hands while watching supermoon at the historical Değirmenler Hill in southern Muğla province's Bodrum (IHA Photo)
Super blue blood moon shines over Bodrum (IHA Photo)
Super blue blood moon shines over Bodrum (IHA Photo)
Supermoon sighted behind the Selimiye Mosque in Turkey's western Edirne province (IHA Photo)
Supermoon sighted behind the Selimiye Mosque in Turkey's western Edirne province (IHA Photo)


The U.S. East Coast, Europe and most of South America and Africa were out of luck for the total eclipse. At Cape Canaveral, Florida, where a rocket delivered America's first satellite to orbit exactly 60 years ago — Explorer 1 — the blue super moon loomed large in the sky.

The second full moon in a calendar month is a blue moon. This one also happened to be an especially close and bright moon, or supermoon. Add a total eclipse, known as a blood moon for its red tint, and it was a lunar showstopper.

NASA called it a lunar trifecta: the first super blue blood moon since 1982. That combination won't happen again until 2037. For those looking ahead, the next supermoon is in February, the next blue moon is in March and the next total lunar eclipse is in July, according to NASA.

A total lunar eclipse — considered the most scientific of Wednesday's threesome — occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, casting Earth's shadow on the moon.

Scientists were keen to study the sharp, sudden drop in temperature at the lunar surface as Earth's shadow blankets the moon. During the more than one hour of totality, the temperature plunged 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), said Petro. He's deputy project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the moon since 2009. His team took special precautions to keep the spacecraft warm during the eclipse.

For the trivia crowd, the moon was 223,820 miles (360,200 kilometers) away at the peak of the eclipse, close enough for supermoon status, according to NASA.

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