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Science & Technology

'Super Blue Blood Moon' Coming Wednesday

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Stargazers are in for a special treat later this week. A super blue blood moon will light up the sky in parts of the Western Hemisphere in the wee hours on Wednesday. NPR's Windsor Johnston reports.

WINDSOR JOHNSTON, BYLINE: Stargazers will be able to view a supermoon, blue moon and a total lunar eclipse all within a 24-hour period. Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute, says it's the first time in more than 150 years that this triple effect will come together.

DERRICK PITTS: The first one that people will most immediately notice is that the moon will be full. In addition, that full moon happens to be at one of its closest points to Earth for the entire year. Now, that turns it into a supermoon.

JOHNSTON: Pitts says science enthusiasts will also be treated to a blue moon, the second full moon in a single month.

PITTS: The first full moon was Jan. 1. And we're just squeezing in this second full moon on Jan. 31. That's a little rarer. In fact, this instance of having two full moons in one month happens about every 2.7 years.

JOHNSTON: And finally, there will be a total lunar eclipse often called a blood moon, when the moon turns a reddish-copper color as it passes through the Earth's shadow.

PITTS: Folks on the West Coast of the United States will get to see the maximum amount of eclipse. And so if you're over there on the West Coast, you're in a good spot.

JOHNSTON: Pitts says that's as long as it's not a cloudy morning. Windsor Johnston, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF PENGUIN CAFE'S "THE FOX AND THE LEOPARD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.