On the 31st January 2018, an incredibly rare phenomenon is going to take place. For the first time in 150 years, the moon will not only be a full moon; it will be a supermoon, a blood moon, and a blue moon, all on one night. NASA is referring to it as super blue blood moon, and it will be one of the moon’s most beautiful nights.
So let’s sort out the terminology
A blood moon is a colloquialism used to refer to a total lunar eclipse; the moon is often tinged red due to sunlight only reaching it via the earth’s atmosphere which disperses the green to violet light more than it does the red light, hence the moon appearing to have a reddish tinge. A supermoon is a full moon that coincides with the closest distance it reaches to earth during its orbit and a blue moon is used to describe a second full moon within the same calendar month. However, it’s not blue, and it’s where we get the idiom from, ‘once in a blue moon.’
Moon myths and legend
The three separate lunar events have been the basis of many myths, legends, and superstitions over the centuries. For example. A blood moon has long been seen in Christianity as an omen predicting the end of the world with there being mentions in the book of Joel and Revelations. In Welsh folklore, it is said that if a family member should die during a blue moon, then three others will follow. The word ‘blue’ is derived from the word ‘believe,’ meaning betrayer. As for a supermoon, supermoons have long been with superstitions that they can drive a person insane, in fact, the word ‘lunatic’ or ‘lunacy’ come from ‘Luna,’ the Roman goddess of the moon whom it was said would race across the dark skies in her silver chariot each night.
Luckily, if you live in the UK, much of the Americas and most of Africa, no misfortune will befall you as you’re not going to be able to see this stunning and rare event. The best places for astronomers and moon worshippers to gaze heavenward will be Australia, New Zealand, and much Eastern Asia and that, of course, will depend on cloud cover and general weather conditions.
If it’s a clear night, the smartphone snappers will get some amazing once in a lifetime shots to share with the rest of us online. Providing the world didn’t end!