SHARE
The lunar eclipse, or “blood moon,”as seen from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, during early Wednesday morning. NASA/Robert Markowitz | Courtesy

Early Wednesday morning, a lunar eclipse occurred in com­bi­nation with two other lunar phe­nomena, dubbed the “super blue blood moon.”

During the lunar eclipse, the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, casting a reddish tint on the surface of the moon.

“The Earth has an atmos­phere and the moon doesn’t, so when you have the Earth blocking the sun, you still have the atmos­phere,” Assistant Pro­fessor of Physics Timothy Dolch said. “We have a blue sky because blue light scatters the most off of the nitrogen mol­e­cules, whereas red light keeps going in a straight line. Therefore, most of the light that passes through the earth’s atmos­phere and keeps going is red. That sunrise or sunset light that’s coming through, that’s the portion that reflects off the moon back to us.”

Some sci­en­tists also use thermal mea­sure­ments of the moon’s surface during the eclipse to gain infor­mation about char­ac­ter­istics of the moon’s surface.

“The whole char­acter of the moon changes when we observe with a thermal camera during an eclipse,” said Paul Hayne of the Lab­o­ratory for Atmos­pheric and Space Physics at the Uni­versity of Col­orado Boulder in a press release. “In the dark, many familiar craters and other fea­tures can’t be seen, and the nor­mally non­de­script areas around some craters start to ‘glow,’ because the rocks there are still warm.”

The lunar eclipse coin­cided with a super moon, a term for when a full moon occurs during the point when the moon’s orbit comes closest to Earth, causing the moon to appear slightly larger and brighter than normal. The eclipse also occurred during a blue moon, the term for when two full moons occur during the same cal­endar month.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    FYI, the Moon was setting as this occurred … and was only visible on the west coast.

    Please consult with the physics department in the future