Did you miss last night’s supermoon eclipse? Fear not. You’ll have a chance to see another one… in 18 years. Last night’s total supermoon eclipse was the first of its kind since 1982 and the last until 2033.
Three things happened at once in the nighttime sky. The moon was both full and at its closest point — its perigee — to Earth. Together that created a supermoon. This occurred at the same time as a total lunar eclipse when the full moon passed through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra, and the moon, sun and Earth were perfectly aligned.
But what caused the ruddy color?
From NASA: “The moon does not make its own light; it reflects light it receives from the sun. During a lunar eclipse, the moon appears less and less bright as sunlight is blocked by the Earth’s shadow. As totality approaches, sunlight reaches the moon indirectly and is refracted around the ‘edges’ of Earth, through Earth’s atmosphere. Because of this, almost all colors except red are ‘filtered’ out, and the eclipsed moon appears reddish or dark brown. This filtering is caused by particulates in our atmosphere; when there have been a lot of fires and/or volcanic eruptions, lunar eclipses will appear darker and redder. This eerie — but harmless — effect has earned the phenomenon the nickname ‘blood moon.'”