Once in a blue moon

By Jack Rechsteiner, managing editor.

The morning of Jan. 31, 2018 was an especially exciting one for anyone in the area who was awake and had clear sky visibility.

For the first time in over 150 years a Super Blue Blood Moon occurred for skywatchers around the world. A blood moon is another term for the appearance of the moon during a total lunar eclipse; it’s the moment during the lunar eclipse when the moon appears to be blood red because all the sunrises and sunsets around the world are reflecting off the moon.

This year’s lunar eclipse was also special for being a blue moon, which may remind some people of the iconic Michigan ice cream flavor Blue Moon or the saying “once in a blue moon.” A blue moon is astronomically defined as being the second full moon to occur within one month. While this phenomenon occurs somewhat regularly, its happening along with a supermoon and a lunar eclipse is truly something that only happens once in a blue moon.

The sky that morning had been overcast in most parts of the Saginaw area which left many an astronomer sad with the viewing conditions. Those wishing to see the rare astronomical event would have been up at 7 a.m. with the hopes of seeing the moon, just to have the opportunity ruined by cloud coverage.

For those of us who missed the opportunity to see this rare lunar eclipse, there will be another one happening on Jan. 19, 2019 that will be visible from all of North and South America. This lunar eclipse will also be a supermoon lunar eclipse, because the moon will be at perigee in its orbit, which is is the point where it is closest to earth and thus appears the largest. After the lunar eclipse in 2019 stargazers will be waiting for more than two years to see the next one. The next full lunar eclipse will occur on May 26, 2021 and the next blue moon lunar eclipse won’t happen until Dec. 31, 2028, which will also make it a New Year’s Eve blue blood moon.

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