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A guide for tomorrow morning's lunar trifecta, the super blue blood moon

Jan 30, 2018

Tomorrow morning there will be a lunar trifecta: the super blue blood moon.

Mary Stewart Adams of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmett County joined Stateside today to explain what this rare lunar event is, what Michiganders will be able to see, and when.

Adams said that while you can say this lunar event is three different phenomena all wrapped into one, “some of it is not as rare as what we’re calling it might make us think.”

A blue moon

For instance, take a blue moon.

“A blue moon, the way it’s commonly defined now, is the second full moon in one calendar month,” Adams said.

She said we had a full moon between the first and second of January, so tomorrow morning's full moon will be the second.

A blood moon

Adams said when the moon is completely eclipsed, it doesn’t go completely dark or disappear.

“The shadow of the Earth on the moon looks like reddish brown,” she said. “So people have started calling that a blood moon.”

The roots of that phrase, however, come from the Old Testament of the Bible, she said.

“Like the blood moon is this thing that marks a certain fulfillment of biblical prophecy,” she said. “But it includes the sun going dark – so solar eclipse – and then the moon turning to blood – lunar eclipse. So those two things have to be happening for what’s being prophesied to take place.”

A supermoon

"Supermoon," she said, is a mainstream term for a perigee moon – the moon when it’s closest to Earth.

“Because the moon is orbiting the Earth on an ellipse, so not a circle,” Adams said. “So there’s a point where it comes closer to the Earth, and that happens every single month.

“But every year, we will have a couple of moons that are close to the perigee point where they’re full, so… people are calling it ‘supermoon.’”

She said the moon on Jan. 1 was actually closer to Earth than the one we’ll see tomorrow.

How to see the trifecta

Still, Adams said the trifecta of the super blue blood moon is rare to see.

“So it begins at about 5:50 in the morning, and that’s just with the leading edge of the shadow coming over the moon,” she said, “but we don’t get to official partial phase of the eclipse for another hour … and then at 7:56 a.m., the moon will be totally eclipsed. But for us in Michigan, it’s setting just a few minutes later.”

If the weather cooperates, she suggests those hoping to see the whole ordeal should get to their viewing spot by 5:45 a.m.

For those hoping to see something happen, but not the whole event, be outside around 6:30 a.m.

And if you are near Emmet County, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park will have an Open-House-style program tomorrow morning starting at 5:30 a.m. and running until 8:30 a.m.

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