The Earth’s favorite lunar friend will put on a show this week. It’s being a called the moon’s triple threat. Are you ready for the ‘Super Blue Moon’?
The triple threat has not happened since 1982 and we won’t see another one until 2037. So what’s all going to happen? On Wednesday, we’ll get to see not only a blue moon and a supermoon, but also a total lunar eclipse. This is a rare occurrence, but you might have to look closely to really get a good look.
The eclipse will be most visible in the western half of the U.S. and Canada before the moon sets early Wednesday morning. This means it’s seen near the horizon.
The U.S. East Coast will be out of luck; the moon will be setting just as the eclipse gets started.
A blue moon is the second full moon in a month. 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. It shows up as being slightly bigger. A total lunar eclipse is when the shadow of the earth comes between the sun and moon casting a shadow on the moon.
The moon will actually be closest to Earth on Tuesday — just a skip, hop and a jump at 223,000 miles away from us earthlings. That fits the supermoon guidelines.
As the sun lines up perfectly with the Earth and then moon for the eclipse, scientists will make observations from a telescope in Hawaii, while also collecting data from NASA’s moon-circling Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2009.
Just like the total solar eclipse in the U.S. last August cooled the Earth’s surface, a lunar eclipse cools the moon’s surface. It’s this abrupt cooling — from the heat of direct sunlight to essentially a deep freeze — that researchers will be studying. Totality will last more than an hour, which is a lot more than what we saw from our solar eclipse in August.
NASA plans to provide a live stream of the moon from telescopes in California and Arizona, beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST.
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