While lacking the exciting danger of having your eyeballs burned out of their sockets, the “super blue blood moon” eclipse has skywatchers gazing heavenward to witness this rare celestial phenomenon. In other words, expect something different in the sky early Wednesday morning.
Here’s what a super blue blood moon lunar eclipse looks like:
It’s a little more impressive if you’re actually pointed in the right direction. But before we tell you where to look, let’s explain what this particular eclipse actually is and why it’s so rare.
LUNAR ECLIPSE (aka blood moon)
A lunar eclipse is when the earth moves directly in between the moon and the sun. That causes the earth to cast a shadow on the moon, making it darker, but the earth isn’t nearly big enough to block out every ray of light from the sun. Thus, the moon doesn’t completely disappear, but it does fade to an eerie, murky red. These eclipses occur up to three times a year, according to NBC News.
A supermoon is a moon that looks bigger and brighter than normal because it is at its closest point to the earth. The moon appears as a super moon only three or four times a year.
A blue moon is the second full moon in a month. It’s not bluer. It’s not particularly exciting on its own. Two full moons in the same month only happen once every three years or so, according to Fox News.
Combine all these things, though, and you’ve got the “super blue blood moon” trifecta that’s so rare that the last time anyone saw it they were living under the Andrew Johnson presidency. That was right between the better-known Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant presidencies, in case you didn’t know.
A Google Image search for photos of the 1866 super blue blood moon didn’t net any accurate results. So here are photos of supermoon showing its magnetic attraction to the Statue of Liberty:
Now here’s how to see Wednesday morning’s attraction. In fact, you might want to go to bed after reading this in order to get enough sleep.
According to people that know this stuff, the best place to actually see the super blue blood moon eclipse is in the western U.S, including Alaska and Hawaii. The main part of the eclipse will begin at 3:48 a.m. PST in California and can be seen by looking toward the western horizon.
As for people in the East Coast, NASA program executive Gordon Johnston says “your best opportunity if you live in the East is to head outside about 6:45 a.m [EST] and get to a high place.”
You’ll need to look toward the western horizon, but a little to the north as well in order to see just the start of the eclipse before the moon disappointingly drops out of sight, leaving you cold, tired, and wondering why you tore your pajamas jumping three fences to get top of a tall hill.
Or you can watch it on NASA’s live video feed, which they’ll start at 5:30 a.m. EST. The full eclipse will last for about an hour and 15 minutes — less time than it takes for most house paint to dry.
If you’re in Denver, the main part of the eclipse begins at 4:48 a.m CST and in Chicago at 5:48 a.m. CST. NASA created this little animation with dramatic music to explain the phenomenon and make it sound worth dragging yourself out of bed for:
So what makes a super blue blood moon eclipse so special? It’s a lunar eclipse — but bigger.
Planning to watch it? In other news, a popular fast-food chain is doing so well they’re adding 1,000 new restaurants and debuting a bunch of new self-serve kiosks.