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Super blue blood moon shines over Jerusalem

The rare lunar event stunned skywatchers around the world.


January 31, 2018 | Latest Photo Prev Next
The moon sets behind the city of Jerusalem early on January 31, 2018.The moon sets behind the city of Jerusalem early on January 31, 2018.Photo: Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images
January 31, 2018 | Latest Photo

All around the globe, in different time zones, people crawled out of bed early to catch a glimpse of a truly otherworldly sight: a super blue blood moon in the sky.

"It was amazing, it looked like it was popping out of the sky!" exclaimed Joe Stuart on Twitter from Australia. In the photo above, the moon can be seen behind the city of Jerusalem early on Wednesday morning. (Just three years ago, a rare supermoon eclipse could also be seen over the skies in Israel.)

“I have always been fascinated by the night sky," wrote Gordon Johnston, a lunar blogger at NASA. "Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the Moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night.”

The rare cosmic event has not been seen in 36 years, and in the U.S. one hasn't occured since 1866.

So what is it exactly? The simple explanation is this:

Supermoon - When the moon is at or near its closest point to Earth. (It's technical name is "perigee syzygy," but that doesn't sound as heroic as a supermoon.)

Blue moon - The second full moon in a month.

Blood moon - The red tint that Earth's shadow casts on the moon during a lunar eclipse.

Individually the three events aren't entirely rare, but they haven't happened together for decades. Below, science reporter Andrew Griffin elaborates on the explanation:

Looking for more stories about the moon? Check out these stories from our archives:

Want to see more photos? Check out FTGV's Featured Photo collection.

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Related Topics: Space