Super Blue Blood Moon – A rare celestial event

Vigyan Prasar conducted the event on Total Lunar Eclipse on the special occasion of the Super Blue Blood moon in the premises of Department of Science & Technology (DST) on 31st January, 2018. Dr. Harsh Vardhan Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology & Earth Sciences and, Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary DST witnessed the event along with 200 children and general public.

Three telescopes were set up for the students, general public and staff members of the department to get the glimpse of the rare phenomena of Super Blue Blood Moon on Wednesday evening. Though the rare phenomenon took its time to unfold, it didn’t deter space enthusiasts from witnessing the spectacle. While some enjoyed the magical view through naked eyes, others turned to telescopes for the best view. A lecture on Total Lunar Eclipse was also delivered to the students by Dr. Arvind Ranade, Scientist ‘E’, Vigyan Prasar.

The super blue blood moon features three different astronomical events. First, the blue moon, when there is two full moon falls in a calendar month, the second full moon is called Blue moon. The word came from the phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ means something is rare. Blue Moon happens once in every two or three years.
Second, the super moon happens when the full moon approximately coincides with the moon’s perigee, or a point in its orbit at which it is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual. While the moon’s average distance is 238,000 miles (382,900 km) from Earth, its orbit isn’t perfectly circular, so that distance varies a small amount. The perigee for January’s super moon is the closest of this year.

And third, the blood moon, during the total portion of an eclipse, moon may turn red or coppery colour. Red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth atmosphere and its bends towards the moon. It is due to the scattering of light through Earth’s atmosphere the Moon colour will be appears red or reddish copper as red light passes through easily while the other colours in the spectrum are blocked.
A lunar eclipse can occur only at full moon. A total lunar eclipse can happen only when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up – anything less than perfection creates a partial lunar eclipse or no eclipse at all. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned (in “syzygy”) exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can occur only the night of a full moon.