MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) – You may want to set your alarms to go off a little earlier Wednesday morning to catch a rare “Super Blue Blood Moon.”
It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let’s break it down by its three parts: “super,” “blue” and “blood.”
So, a “supermoon” is when a full moon occurs at the same time as its perigee, the closest point of the moon’s orbit with Earth. The result is that the moon appears larger than normal and NASA is predicting this one will be 14% brighter than usual.
Chances are you have used the phrase “once in a blue moon” — but have you ever wondered where it came from? The well-known idiom actually refers to the rare instance when there is a second full moon in a calendar month. The first supermoon of 2018, which took place on New Year’s Day, was previously described by NASA as the “biggest and brightest” one expected for the entire year.
Then completing this “lunar trifecta” is the “blood” element. Although it does not have a scientific definition, a “blood moon” occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the moon, giving it a reddish, copper color. The lunar eclipse will be viewable out west, but here on the East Coast, we’ll just see a full bright moon.
“The last time we had this type of event, this hat trick, was about 35 years ago. There will be another opportunity in 2037. There was one back in the 19th century. These are pretty rare,” said Dr. Jim Garvin with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
What makes this Super Blue Blood Moon extra special is that it marks the first time since March 31, 1866, that a total lunar eclipse coincides with a Blue Moon in North America.
Your best opportunity to see it is to head outside about 6:45 a.m. and make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west.
There are usually a couple of lunar eclipses each year so if you do miss it this time around, the next one will happen on July 27 — though it won’t be visible in North America. It’ll be a long wait for skywatchers in the US as the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21st, 2019.
(©2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to this report.)