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OUT OF THIS WORLD | Earth, Space and Everything In-Between - a daily journey through weather, space and science with meteorologist/science writer Scott Sutherland

Watch the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse AGAIN from anywhere


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 3:35 PM - Did you get up early to see Wednesday morning's Super Blue Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse? Here's how to watch it now, or again, from anywhere in the world!

Starting at around 6:48 a.m. ET on Wednesday, January 31, the Moon began passing through Earth's umbra - the dusky red core of our planet's shadow - starting the most spectacular part of the first total lunar eclipse visible in North America since September 2015, and the first Super Blue Blood Moon total lunar eclipse in nearly 174 years!

The eclipse actually began at 5:51 a.m. ET, as the Moon slipped into Earth's penumbra, the dim, grey portion of the planet's shadow. The first 57 minutes of the eclipse, however, will only be noticeable to someone who is very closely watching the Moon, perhaps with a telescope or a camera equipped with a telephoto lens. It's when the Moon crosses the umbra, and turns that characteristic blood red colour, that the eclipse becomes noticeable to even the casual observer.

Watch Below, to see the best part of the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse, in under one-minute!



As seen in the video above, the Moon was traversing through Earth's shadow, from left to right. The full journey of the Moon is shown in the image below.

The eclipse was best seen from the Pacific Ocean and eastern Asia, where it was visible for the entire duration of 5 hours and 17 minutes, with 3 hours and 23 minutes for the umbral portion of the eclipse.

In Canada, the best places to watch the eclipse were in the western half of the country

As shown on the map below, the farther west the viewer was, the longer the eclipse was, and the more of the umbral part of the eclipse was visible. All times on the map are local. Thus, while the eclipse began at the same time, no matter where someone was watching from, the actual start time was 6:51 a.m. in the Maritimes and Labrador, 5:51 a.m. in Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut, 4:51 a.m. in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 3:51 a.m. in Alberta and Northwest Territories, and 2:51 a.m in British Columbia and Yukon.

The timing of the peak of the eclipse was at 8:29 a.m. ET, however it was cut short for anywhere east of Thunder Bay, due to when the Moon set. In southwestern Ontario, for example, the Moon was only around two-thirds covered by the umbra at 7:21 a.m. ET, and then it set beyond the horizon roughly five minutes later.

Anyone from Thunder Bay to the west coast was able to see the entire face of the Moon turn red before it set beyond the horizon. The farther west the observer was, the more they saw of the second half of the eclipse, though, when the Moon slipped out of the umbra, and then exited Earth's shadow completely.


RELATED: What astronomical events are happening in Winter of 2017-2018? Find out here!


Cloudy? Clear?

Weather was a big factor for anyone who went outside to see the eclipse. Here was the current cloud forecast for Canada, to see who had the best viewing.



Super Moon? Blue Moon? Blood Moon? Total Lunar Eclipse?

So, Wednesday morning's event is being called a Super Blue Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse, but what do these things mean?


View from the Moon during a total lunar eclipse.
Credit: NASA

Going in reverse order, a total lunar eclipse is when the Full Moon passes through the middle of Earth's shadow. The shadow has two parts to it, the dim, grey outer part, known as the penumbra, and the dusky red core, known as the umbra. If the Full Moon only passes through the outer part of the shadow, it is considered to be a "penumbral lunar eclipse". These are hard to notice. If only part of the Full Moon intersects with the red umbra, it's called a "partial lunar eclipse". For a total lunar eclipse, the Moon must be entirely covered by the umbra as it sweeps through the shadow.

Earth's shadow has two regions because Earth is a sphere, which is lit by a bright, distant point source, and the umbra is red for the same reason sunsets are red for us, here on Earth. Sunlight is refracted by the atmosphere, starting with the blue part of the spectrum (which is why we see a blue sky during the day). The lower the Sun is in the sky, the more refraction there is, and thus more colours are "removed", until it is only the oranges and reds that are left to continue on. It is these oranges and reds that get focused into a cone that extends away from Earth to a point just beyond the Moon's orbit. So, in essense, the red of the total lunar eclipse is the light from all the sunsets on Earth being focused onto the Moon's face, all at once. The next total lunar eclipse visible from North America will be on January 21, 2019, and it will also be a supermoon!

A "Blood Moon" is simply another name for the lunar eclipse, because the Moon turns a dark red. 

A "Blue Moon" actually has two definitions. The original definition is the third Full Moon in an astronomical season that has four Full Moons. A typical season - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter - will have three Full Moons, one per month. However, when the first Full Moon of a season occurs within a day or so after the season starts, the timing of the next three Full Moons will put them all within that same season. The last time we saw one of these was on May 21, 2016, and it is set to happen again in Spring 2019, when the Full Moons will fall on March 21, April 19, May 18 and June 17. The newer, more popular definition is a second Full Moon that occurs in a calendar month. The last time we saw one was on July 31, 2015, we're seeing one again tonight, and the next time we see one of these will be on October 31, 2020.

A "Super Moon" is a term from astrology, that is used to refer to a Full Moon or a New Moon that happens at, or very close to, perigee - which is to say, very close to the closest point the Moon comes to Earth in its elliptical orbit around the planet. In astronomical terms, we have come to call any Full or New Moon that occurs when the Moon is closer than 361,524 km a supermoon, but astronomers tend to perfer the term "Perigee Full Moon" or "Perigee New Moon". The upcoming Full Moon is the third in a series of supermoons, with the January 2 Supermoon also being 2018's Perigee Full Moon - the largest and brightest Full Moon of the year. The next supermoon trilogy will be later this year, with the New Moons on June 13, July 13 and August 11.

The last time we saw all of these things in unison, as we did on Wednsday morning, was May 31, 1844. There was a Blue Moon total lunar eclipse on March 31, 1866, but that one was not a Super Moon. The next Super Blue Blood Moon total lunar eclipse after this will be on January 31, 2037.

Sources: NASA | With files from The Weather Network

Watch Below: A Supermoon Trilogy - Science@NASA



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