‘Super blue blood moon’ to grace PH skies on Jan. 31

The celestial event last happened 150 years ago
/ 07:23 AM January 29, 2018

CELESTIAL SPECTACLE In a rare celestial spectacle for stargazers, a supermoon, blue moon and blood moon will coincide on Wednesday to create a moment not seen in the heavens in more than 150 years. —COMPOSITE PHOTOS FROM NASA

It’s a rare celestial event—called a “super blue blood moon”—that last happened 150 years ago, and it will grace the skies again on Jan. 31 when a blue moon and lunar eclipse combine with the moon being at its closest point to Earth.

Filipinos, who want to get a closer look at the astronomical trifecta, may go to the Pagasa Astronomical Observatory on the campus of the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City on Wednesday night.


At least five telescopes will be set up so the public may view the super blue blood moon. One telescope will be mounted exclusively for photographers.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) hopes to use another telescope to livestream the event.


Clear skies doubtful

Lordnico Mendoza, a Pagasa weather observer, said the celestial event may be seen by the naked eye from any place in the country with clear skies.

“The problem is that according to Pagasa’s extended forecast, there is a weather system, the cold front, forecast until Feb. 2. So [clear skies] are slightly doubtful,” Mendoza said.

He said a blue moon was not necessarily blue as it simply referred to the second full moon of the month.

A supermoon happens when the moon comes within at least 361,000 kilometers from the Earth or perigree, and can appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

A so-called blood moon occurs during a lunar eclipse when the moon, in the Earth’s shadow, takes on a reddish tint due to sunlight reflected by the atmosphere.

Starting 6:49 p.m.


The lunar eclipse will begin at 6:49 p.m. and reach its maximum at 9:29 p.m., according to Pagasa.

The event is also visible in other parts of Asia, Middle East, Russia, Australia and parts of western North America.

“This is very rare because the last one happened 150 years ago,” Mendoza said, referring to the occurrence of all three lunar events on the same night.

A similar event, he added, will occur on Dec. 31, 2028, but will only feature a blue moon and lunar eclipse, with no supermoon.

1844 or 1866

Jason Aufdenberg, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Florida, said that by his calculations, the last time a supermoon, blue moon and total lunar eclipse were all visible was on May 31, 1844, at eastern United States.

According to Sky and Telescope, the last blue moon total lunar eclipse visible from North America happened on March 31, 1866.

“But on that date the moon was near apogee, its most distant point from Earth,” it said.

Lunar eclipses during a supermoon happen rather regularly. The last one was in September 2015.

Lunar eclipses occur at least twice a year.

Supermoons can happen four to six times a year.

The next supermoon lunar eclipse visible throughout all of the United States will be on Jan. 21, 2019—though that one will not be a blue moon.

The eclipse will offer scientists a chance to see what happens when the surface of the moon cools quickly, according to Nasa.

Change in moon’s character

“The whole character of the moon changes when we observe with a thermal camera during an eclipse,” said Paul Hayne of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder.

“In the dark, many familiar craters and other features can’t be seen, and the normally nondescript areas around some craters start to ‘glow’ because the rocks there are still warm.” —REPORTS FROM MATTHEW REYSIO-CRUZ AND AFP

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