Upstate professors gear up for rare 'Super Blue Blood Moon' - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate professors gear up for rare 'Super Blue Blood Moon'

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Super Moon on Tuesday. (1/30/18 FOX Carolina) Super Moon on Tuesday. (1/30/18 FOX Carolina)
(FOX Carolina) -

Astronomers are calling it a trifecta, one of the rarest lunar lineups in over a century.

"The last time it happened over the United States was about 150 years ago," said David Moffett, a Furman University Astronomy Professor.

Moffett said this is the second full moon in January, which is called a blue moon. He said that in itself is fairly common, but it's the unusual matchups that will set Wednesday morning’s view apart.

"Then it's a super moon which means it's actually closer to the earth in its orbit around the earth,” Moffett said. “It's at a place we call perigee, it is going to be about 12 percent larger than it normally is."

Still, it's the third factor that has Moffett dusting off his camera. There is a small window from about 6:30 to 7:00am when we will see a lunar eclipse, and that's where the last part of the title comes in.

"The blood part is because of the color, the reddish color that happens when the moon goes into the earth's shadow,” Moffett said. “It actually appears red during a total lunar eclipse."

Professors at Furman, Lander and Clemson all said there is one small sweet spot, and that's what they are aiming for as they hope to snap a picture before the sun rises.

"If you go and catch the moon rising at either sunset or setting at sunrise you'll get the full effect,” said Dr. Amber Porter. “It's most beautiful when you see the moon near the horizon.”

The Clemson lecturer of physics and astronomy said the clearer your view of the western horizon, the better the results will be. Porter said we were lucky to be in the path of totality for August’s solar eclipse, but this time our area isn't so lucky. Experts said just a small sliver of the moon will be shadowed.

"Some parts of the world will see a total lunar eclipse,” Porter said. “We aren't in that particular zone so we won't see the blood part so much but it will still be a super moon for us."

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