‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ lights up the sky

moon

A rare form of eclipse not seen in more than 150 years lit up the sky across the west coast of the US on Wednesday.

Americans set their alarms for before dawn to catch a glimpse of the so-called “Super Blue Blood Moon”, which marked the rare combination of three lunar conditions to produce a unique spectacle last seen in the country in 1866.

Like any total lunar eclipse, the moon took on a red-tinted hue, with the “blue” a result of it being the second full moon in a single month.

A full moon 'super moon' rises over Los Andes mountain range in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday © Reuters A full moon ‘super moon’ rises over Los Andes mountain range in Santiago, Chile, on Tuesday

The best time to see the “Super Blue Moon” in the UK will be in the early hours of Thursday with an amalgamation of “super” and “blue” possibly viewable if the skies are clear.

Dr Gregory Brown, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the spectacle will not be the same as the US.

“Unfortunately form the United Kingdom the lunar eclipse is not visible, so for people living here whether it is or isn’t a blue moon, this coming full moon will most likely remain grey,” he said

A blue moon rises over Balboa Park's California Tower in San Diego, California, ahead of the arrival of a "Super Blue Blood Moon" © Reuters A blue moon rises over Balboa Park’s California Tower in San Diego, California, ahead of the arrival of a “Super Blue Blood Moon”

Wednesday’s eclipse also marked the point in the moon’s orbit at which it is as close as it can get to the Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual, when it becomes a “super moon”.

The eclipse was viewable across most of North America, Alaska and Hawaii before sunrise, with those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand able to see it in the evening.

Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA HQ in Washington, advised those interested in getting a good view of the astronomical rarity where and when would be the ideal place and time.

A blue moon rises through clouds in San Diego, California, in the early hours of Wednesday © Reuters A blue moon rises through clouds in San Diego, California, in the early hours of Wednesday

Before the eclipse began, he promised those on the West Coast, and in Alaska and Hawaii, “a spectacular view of totality from start to finish”.

Mr Johnston, who has been blogging about the moon for almost 15 years, said: “I have always been fascinated by the night sky. Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night.”

The 'Super Blue Blood Moon' appears above the Statue of Liberty © Reuters The ‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ appears above the Statue of Liberty

Across the world, millions of others shared in his excitement on Wednesday, with more than 101 million people tuning in to NASA’s live stream of the event.

In Los Angeles, hundreds watched the phenomenon from the Griffith Observatory on Mount Hollywood.

Skywatchers gather at Beijing Planetarium © Reuters Skywatchers gather at Beijing Planetarium

Observatory director Ed Krupp said: “Griffith Observatory is all about having an eyeball to the sky, and so it’s one thing to learn about this event in a book, but it’s another to see it for yourself.”

The Santa Monica Pier was also packed with stargazers, and in Asia the Beijing Planetarium hosted hundreds of people and the Hong King Space Museum organised a “Night of Total Lunar Eclipse”.

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