A "Super Blue Blood Moon" on Wednesday will provide early risers with quite the phenomenon: Three lunar events taking place at once.
Unfortunately, it won’t be quite as exciting to see in Tampa Bay.
For those on the West Coast willing to wake up early, they’ll see a red tinted, coppery hued moon that’s a little larger than normal.
The Super Blue Blood Moon will NOT be what you expect in Tampa. The lunar eclipse Wednesday morning will not be blue or red (blood) in color. Here's what you CAN expect if you're in the #TampaBay Area. pic.twitter.com/BSyXSqWXBl— Grant Gilmore (@grant_gilmore) January 30, 2018
Sadly, folks in the bay area — and along the East Coast in general — will only get a glimpse of a partial lunar eclipse as the moon begins to set at dawn.
The lunar eclipse that will be visible locally starting at 6:48 a.m. The maximum eclipse, which will appear as a partial crest, occurs at 7:10 a.m. but the moon will set at 7:15. It is at that point when the rest of the eclipse will not be visible, said 10Weather WTSP meteorolgist Grant Gilmore.
"It’s going to look pretty cool if you’re living in California," said astronomer Craig Joseph, professor and head of the St, Petersburg College Planetarium. "Sadly, it’ll hardly be viewable at all for those of us on the East Coast."
The three lunar events that make up the "Super Blue Blood Moon" are rare in their own rights.
This supermoon is the third in a series of instances in which the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, also known as a perigree. The moon will be about 7 percent larger and brighter than it would normally appear, Joseph said. While labels like "supermoon" aren’t astronomical term, they have helped draw more attention to the show playing out above in the night sky.
"I think people really expect too much," Joseph said. "It’ll be a little bigger, a little bit brighter."
A total lunar eclipse appears when the moon crosses the Earth’s shadow. The sun rays cascading around the Earth will cast a reddish, coppery hue over the moon’s surface, hence the word "blood" in the name.
"Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish," said Gordon Johnston, a lunar blogger for NASA, in an article posted to the web.
"Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5:51 a.m. (EDT), as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east."
The blue portion of the title denotes that this will be the second full moon to appear in a single month. Our calendars are based on the cycles of the moon, but every few years a second full moon will appear in just one calendar month. Blue moons only happen about once every 2.7 years.
Joseph said Tampa Bay area residents shouldn’t fret. Next year around March, another lunar eclipse will occur in full view of the East Coast.
"We will have a beautiful total eclipse of the moon next year," Joseph said. "It’ll be near the evening time which is a great for viewing."