ANAHEIM, California – People across the United States and in many other parts of the world on Wednesday observed a rare lunar eclipse known as a super blue blood moon.
The event, which began at 5:45 am EST (1045 GMT) and ended at 11:15 am, is so-named because three celestial phenomena occur simultaneously: a supermoon (when the moon’s perigree, or point in its orbit at which it is nearest to the earth, coincides with a full moon), a blue moon (second full moon in one calendar month) and a blood moon (a total lunar eclipse, when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon).
The total lunar eclipse hit its peak at around 1329 GMT on Wednesday and the best places to observe the lunar trifecta were in the pre-dawn hours in the western US, Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands (just before the moon set) and during moonrise in East Asia and Oceania.
During a total lunar eclipse, which happens around twice every three years, the moon becomes tinged with a copper hue due to the reflection of sunlight.
The blue moon, meanwhile, a term that has nothing to do with that astronomical body’s color, happens about once every 2.7 years.
Because the eclipse occurred at a time when the moon was near its perigree, it appeared especially large and bright to skywatchers.
According to the Web site space.com, Wednesday’s event marked the first time in more than 150 years (since March 31, 1866) that a total lunar eclipse coincided with a blue moon in North America.