Fri, Feb 02, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Giant moon turns blood red to worldwide delight


A full moon rises behind a mosque over the Camlica hill in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday night.

Photo: Reuters

The moon put on a rare cosmic show on Wednesday: a red “blue moon,” super big and super bright. It was the first time in 35 years that a “blue moon” has synced up with a “supermoon” and a total lunar eclipse, or “blood moon” because of its red hue.

Hawaii and Alaska had the best seats, along with the Canadian Yukon, Australia and much of Asia. The western US also had good viewing, along with Russia.

At the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, hundreds gathered on the lawn in the wee hours under clear skies. Traffic was backed up more than a kilometer around the observatory. Stargazers also lined the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, some snapping photographs and others reclining in the sand, their faces turned upward.

Visual effects artist John Cook joined fellow photography enthusiasts at the pier, using the ferris wheel and roller coaster for his foreground.

“It was incredible,” he said.

Photographers also gathered at the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, striving to get the famous Coit Tower in their moon shots.

In San Francisco’s Marina district, a crowd gathered to watch the “super blue blood moon,” as NASA calls it, set over the Golden Gate Bridge. Spectators got lucky: There were clear skies and no trace of the city’s famous fog.

“It’s very cinematic, the way the moon is changing colors and reflecting on the water,” said Clara Cambon, who arrived about 5:30am with her husband.

On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, where it was already nightfall, hundreds descended on the Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho complex, where telescopes and binoculars were plentiful. A TV monitor showed zoom-in views of the moon and a university professor gave a run-down as the eclipse unfolded.

“It’s wonderful to be at this precious event and to have been able to see the moon looking so beautiful,” visitor Mayumi Kimura said.

The US East Coast, Europe and most of South America and Africa were out of luck for the total eclipse.

At Cape Canaveral, Florida, where a rocket delivered the US’ first satellite — Explorer 1 — to orbit exactly 60 years earlier the blue super moon loomed large in the sky.

The second full moon in a calendar month is a blue moon. This one also happened to be an especially close and bright moon, or supermoon. Add a total eclipse, known as a blood moon for its red tint, and it was a lunar showstopper.

NASA called it a lunar trifecta: the first super blue blood moon since 1982. That combination will not occur again until 2037. For those looking ahead, the next supermoon is in February, the next blue moon is in March and the next total lunar eclipse is in July, according to NASA.

NASA lunar scientist Noah Petro said he was astonished — and thrilled — by all the attention and fuss, adding that the total solar eclipse that swept across the US in August contributed to Wednesday’s buzz.

Missing out on the eclipse from his home in Virginia, he watched the event online Wednesday morning with his two children, ages three and seven.

“I hope that people use this as an opportunity to dig in a little more and learn about our own planet, our wonderful sister planet, the moon, and the sun and all the other great objects in the solar system,” Petro said on his way to work at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A total lunar eclipse — considered the most scientific of Wednesday’s threesome — occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, casting Earth’s shadow on the moon.

This story has been viewed 1849 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top