Many earthlings were treated to a rare sight last night, as a “supermoon” coincided with a lunar eclipse. It was a bad night to have clouds obscuring the view, as the last total eclipse that had these qualities occurred in 1982, and the next won’t happen until 2033.
This lunar eclipse ticked many boxes for sky watchers: it was a supermoon, when the moon is both full and in perigee, or close to Earth, making it loom large in our sky. It was also a blood moon (the fourth and final lunar eclipse). And because it occurred days after the fall equinox, this was also the harvest moon.
The entire lunar eclipse took more than three hours to transpire. At times, the moon took on an orange or reddish glow.
Here’s how Sky & Telescope senior editor Kelly Beatty explained the effects of light on the moon:
“Rayleigh scattering is what makes sunsets red, caused by our atmosphere’s preferential scattering (not refraction) of blue light. That’s where the redness comes from. But refraction (not Rayleigh scattering) is the reason that any light reaches the Moon during totality. So, it’s really both things.”
Here on Earth, lunar eclipses and blood moons have long been tied to prophecies — and one commenter on our earlier story revealed that they’ve deciphered a prediction from “both the Mayan Calendar and Book of numbers, as well as historical evidence.”
A super blood moon eclipse “precedes the coming of terrible haircuts, regrettable makeup choices, poorly animated and conceived cartoon shows, and leg warmers,” announced Scott Finkelstein.
Before you dismiss that prediction, we’ll remind you: the last such eclipse was in 1982.
Here are a few more of our favorite images from last night: