‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ triple threat occurs pre-dawn Wednesday

Posted at 10:46 AM, Jan 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-30 10:46:12-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Early Wednesday morning, the moon will look a bit different. According to NASA, parts of North America will experience a “Super Blue Blood Moon” eclipse. This is a rare event that hasn’t been seen in North America in more than 150 years.

That’s quite a headline though…so what exactly does that mean?

A “Supermoon” is generally defined when the moon is slightly closer to the Earth in its orbit because that orbit is not a true perfect circle. Although this is difficult to see with the naked eye the moon will appear slightly larger in the sky.

A “Blue Moon” is when there’s a second full moon in a month.  Despite what you’ll probably see float around on social media, the moon won’t actually appear blue. It will have a red coloring to it when the lunar eclipse is occurring.

A “Blood Moon” is when the Earth’s shadow casts the red coloring on the moon during the lunar eclipse. This is the coolest thing about the celestial event.

Photo courtesy of NASA

In the graphic above, you’ll notice the moon will gain a red tint in the early morning hours.  Unlike the big solar eclipse last year, this event relies on the passage of the earth’s shadow and the position of the sun.  The earth’s shadow creates the red hue, and you’ll start the eclipse with a dark shadow on one side of the moon before it turns red.

Locally, our moon sets around 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, so we’ll get to see it in it’s full red glory for around 10-15 minutes. The moon in West Michigan will set during the lunar eclipse. You will need to look west when trying to see this event Wednesday morning.

Sadly, the forecast in West Michigan calls for mostly cloudy skies, which won’t make for the best viewing. The prime spots will be out along the west coast, in Alaska and Hawaii. Luckily, NASA will be streaming this event all morning long to make sure everyone can enjoy it!

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST a live feed of the event from NASA can be found here.