EVEN when I was a kid, I would already hear the phrase “once in a blue moon” to refer to something that very rarely happens. Scientifically, “blue moon” means a second full moon within a month, which seldom takes place. It also points to a phenomenon that has the moon appearing to be bluish due to smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere.
As if a blue moon was not rare enough, it had to coincide with a super moon (when the moon is closest to Earth and therefore appears to be much larger and brighter than usual) and a blood moon (a phenomenon where the moon takes on a reddish rust color due to the occurrence of a total lunar eclipse as the moon passed through the Earth’s shadow) last night (January 31, 201. These three rare lunar conditions came together in one night, and the world was treated to a visual spectacle called Super Blue Blood Moon, which was last seen in 1866. The beauty of it was that it was visible to the naked eye in many parts of the world and illuminated the night sky for almost three hours.
First, it was the super moon and the blue moon that appeared in the sky, then the blood moon began to take shape as the reddish rust hue took over. The blood moon looked formidable as a huge and brilliant full moon, and then it gradually changed shape and dimmed its ‘flaring’ glow until only a red outline of a quarter moon towards the upper right hand painted the dark black sky.
The super blue blood moon first appeared in the sky in Australia, then it was visible in many parts of Asia (including the Philippines), North America, Alaska and Hawaii. People who lived in the countries where the rare phenomenon was visible took to the outdoors in droves and flooded observatories to watch the lunar spectacle and record it on cam. There were millions who chose to watch the spectacle online, as institutions like NASA allowed viewers to watch its livestream recording of it. Others simply watched from their homes, including me. I watched in awe as the moon appeared in all its huge and brilliant glory before the drama of the blood moon took over. I took pictures of the phenomenon with my point-and-shoot camera, but my shots of the big, bright super moon would not even clear up. My pictures of the blood moon turned out better. My husband Raff and his trusted digital SLR camera could have done a much better job, but, alas, he (a recovering stroke patient) was not ready yet for the technical challenge, and I could not operate a digital SLR camera as good as he does.
Well, at least, I have pictures of the super blue blood moon to show. After all, it’s a rare three-in-one phenomenon that will next occur on January 31, 2037. There would be a total ‘blood moon’ lunar eclipse, plus a super moon, on January 21, 2019, but it would not be a blue moon.