A once in a 150-year phenomenon, the Super Blue Blood Moon is here. As the name suggests, the moon is going to look super-sized and much brighter than usual. Blue and bloody? Not so much. We explore why it is named Super Blue Blood Moon and how you can watch it on your television, computer or even your phone.
A Super Blue Blood Moon is simply put a fancy lunar eclipse. If you go back to high school science class, you’ll remember that a lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is perfectly positioned between the sun and the moon. Perfect positioning would result in the Earth throwing its shadow on the moon. Occurring only on full moon nights, a lunar eclipse lasts for a much longer duration than a solar eclipse and is usually visible from anywhere on Earth. Well, anywhere where the moon is visible at that hour!
Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as a Blood Moon. The term has come into pop culture due to the way the moon adopts a reddish hue. The reddish hue is of course due to the phenomenon of Rayleigh scattering. Rayleigh scattering is once again, a throwback to high school physics. Think of Earth’s atmosphere like a prism. When sunlight passes through it, the light gets scattered into colors of differing wavelength. Red has the longest wavelength and gets refracted around the Earth to fall on the Moon. Colors with shorter wavelength like violet get scattered away from our satellite.
And that brings us to Blue. How can the Moon be both blue and blood red? Well, it can’t! Every second full moon in a calendar month is known as a Blue Moon and since this doesn’t happen too often, it gave rise to the phrase, ‘Once in a blue moon’!
Today’s Super Blue Blood Moon is going to be about 13 percent bigger than normal. The term super comes from the fact that the moon is relatively super-sized. Like all planetary objects, the path that the Moon follows around the Earth is an ellipse instead of a circle. A supermoon occurs when a full moon is also closest to the Earth while circling around it. Put all three together and we’ve got a Super Blue Blood Moon.
The Super Blue Blood Moon will be visible for about 1 hour 16 minutes starting 6:21 pm in India. Unfortunately, light and air pollution might make it hard to really spot it. NASA has got you sorted and you can check out a livestream of the Super Blue Blood Moon over on their website or even via the NASA app. Want to watch it on the big screen? The app lets you cast the stream on to a Chromecast as well.