A ‘super blue blood Moon’ rises
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Blue side of the moon

A ‘super blue blood Moon’ rises

From LA to the slopes of a Philippine volcano, stargazers worldwide enjoy rare celestial event

  • A partially eclipsed super blue blood moon sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge on January 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP
    A partially eclipsed super blue blood moon sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge on January 31, 2018 in San Francisco, California (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP
  • A super blue blood moon rises behind the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
    A super blue blood moon rises behind the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018 (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
  • A super blue blood moon sets behind downtown San Francisco, California before dawn on January 31, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON
    A super blue blood moon sets behind downtown San Francisco, California before dawn on January 31, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON
  • A picture taken on January 31, 2018 shows the moon rising over Madrid. (AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
    A picture taken on January 31, 2018 shows the moon rising over Madrid. (AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
  • A super blue blood moon behind a mountain is seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / NTB Scanpix / Heiko JUNGE)
    A super blue blood moon behind a mountain is seen from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / NTB Scanpix / Heiko JUNGE)
  • A supermoon rises over the Great Bends Lighthouse on the Raritan Bay, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in South Amboy, N.J. The super moon is the final of three consecutive supermoons. Earlier in the day, the supermoon phenomenon also experience lunar eclipse as it set over the horizon, but only a partial eclipse was visible in the East Coast. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
    A supermoon rises over the Great Bends Lighthouse on the Raritan Bay, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in South Amboy, N.J. The super moon is the final of three consecutive supermoons. Earlier in the day, the supermoon phenomenon also experience lunar eclipse as it set over the horizon, but only a partial eclipse was visible in the East Coast. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  • A plane is seen next to the "super blue blood Moon" in Hong Kong on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE)
    A plane is seen next to the "super blue blood Moon" in Hong Kong on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE)
  • AMBOY, CA - JANUARY 31: The Moon rises over the Mojave Desert before becoming a so-called 'super blue blood moon' when it becomes totally eclipsed before dawn, on January 30, 2018 near Amboy, California. The Super Blue Blood Moon is a rare 'lunar trifecta' event in which the Moon is at its closest to the Earth, appearing about 14 percent brighter than usual, and is simultaneously a 'blue moon', the second full moon in the same month, as well as a total lunar eclipse or 'blood moon'. Such a lunar event that hasn't been seen since 1866.   (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP
    AMBOY, CA - JANUARY 31: The Moon rises over the Mojave Desert before becoming a so-called 'super blue blood moon' when it becomes totally eclipsed before dawn, on January 30, 2018 near Amboy, California. The Super Blue Blood Moon is a rare 'lunar trifecta' event in which the Moon is at its closest to the Earth, appearing about 14 percent brighter than usual, and is simultaneously a 'blue moon', the second full moon in the same month, as well as a total lunar eclipse or 'blood moon'. Such a lunar event that hasn't been seen since 1866. (David McNew/Getty Images/AFP
  • The moon is seen during a lunar eclipse, referred to as the "super blue blood moon", in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM)
    The moon is seen during a lunar eclipse, referred to as the "super blue blood moon", in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / RIZWAN TABASSUM)

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Stargazers across large swaths of the globe — from the streets of Los Angeles to the slopes of a smoldering Philippine volcano — had the chance to witness a rare “super blue blood Moon” Wednesday, when Earth’s shadow bathed our satellite in a coppery hue.

The celestial show was the result of the Sun, Earth, and Moon lining up perfectly for a lunar eclipse just as the Moon is near its closest orbit point to Earth, making it appear “super” large.

It is the second full Moon within the same month, a phenomenon called a “blue” Moon which has nothing to do with its color.

The “blood” in the name comes from the reddish brown color the Moon takes on when Earth enters between it and the sun, cutting off the light rays that usually brighten the lunar surface.

The eclipse began around 3:45 a.m. (1145 GMT), as a black shadow began to devour one corner of the gray-white Moon.

An hour later, the lunar surface was plunged into darkness, known as totality.

Then, rusty tones began to sheath the Moon. There were gasps of delight at that moment in a school in the Philippines town on Guinobatan where some of the 90,000 people who have fled the erupting Mount Mayon volcano were sheltering.

There they were treated to a double-spectacle — a supermoon eclipse rising over a mountain spewing ash and lava.

The ‘super blue blood moon’ obscured by clouds illuminates Mayon volcano as it spews ash near Legazpi City, Albay province, early on February 1, 2018.
Skywatchers were hoping for a rare lunar eclipse that combines three unusual events — a blue moon, a super moon and a total eclipse, which was to make for a large crimson moonviewable in many corners of the globe. / (AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

“It’s huge and bright. It’s exciting to see. God created this beautiful moon and the volcano,” farmer Jose Almesolano, 75, told AFP.

On the other side of the Pacific thousands were gathering at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, which opened its doors at 3:30 a.m. (1130 GMT).

Some had waited in line since 10:00 p.m. the night before, hoping for a choice viewing spot, many science buffs bringing their own telescopes to set up on the lawn.

The extreme east of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, Russia, Australia and New Zealand could enjoy the spectacle on Wednesday night, weather depending, as the Moon rose there.

But most of South America, Africa and Europe, where the alignment occurs in the middle of the day, missed out on the show.

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta, several thousand people lined up at the planetarium to catch a glimpse of the rare event on one of its telescopes.

“I was watching the news on TV and then came here immediately,” Yami, who like many Indonesian goes by one name, told local media.

This composite image created on January 31, 2018 shows the moon during a lunar eclipse referred to as the “super blue blood moon” in Tokyo. (AFP PHOTO / Kazuhiro NOGI)

In Nepal, where the super moon was just visible in the hazy polluted night sky over Kathmandu, the celestial phenomenon was greeted with more caution as an ominous sign.

Local newspapers there had printed warnings telling citizens not to eat, drink, sleep or even go to the toilet during the lunar eclipse, citing Hindu customs.

People watch a lunar eclipse, referred to as the “super blue blood moon”, in Kathmandu on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA)

NASA trained its telescopes and instruments on its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on the Moon to measure the effect of the temperature drop during the one-hour-16-minute eclipse.

Seeing what happens when the surface of the Moon cools quickly will help scientists “understand some of the characteristics of the regolith — the mixture of soil and loose rocks on the surface — and how it changes over time,” the US space agency said in a statement.

The last “super blue blood Moon” occurred on December 30, 1982, when it was seen in Europe, Africa and western Asia.

For North America, the last time was in 1866.

If you missed this one, the next blue Moon total lunar eclipse will happen on December 31, 2028, though it won’t be quite as large since it will not be as close to Earth.

A super blue blood moon is seen behind Salesforce Tower during a partial lunar eclipse in San Francisco, California before dawn on January 31, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSON)

Another will occur on January 31, 2037.

“The red color during a lunar eclipse is very distinctive and it’s a rare treat to be able to see a blood red Moon,” said Brian Rachford, associate professor of physics at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“One of the great things about a lunar eclipse is you also don’t need any special equipment to see it. Anyone can go outside and look at the Moon.”

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