Discover Your Island

A&M-Corpus Christi Astronomy Professor Shares Insight on Rare Super Blue Blood Moon

January 26, 2018

moonphoto-webstory.jpg

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – On Wednesday, Jan. 31, members of the Coastal Bend will have the opportunity of a lifetime – viewing a super blue blood moon.

“This is the first moon of this nature to occur in 150 years, making this truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Sabrina Krueger, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

For those who are intrigued, Krueger broke down the different aspects of this rare moon. A supermoon occurs when the moon is the closest to Earth during its orbit, making it only 223,000 miles away from the average stargazer. That’s the equivalent of about 28 Earths. A blue moon is the second full moon of the month. Blood moon refers to the moon during a lunar eclipse, which causes the moon to take on an orange-red color. At the end of the month, all three of these events will align to create the super blue blood moon.

“Independently, none of the aspects of the super blue blood moon are rare, but when you put them together so they happen on the same night, that’s what makes it unique,” explained Krueger.

Corpus Christi residents who want to see all three events at once will have to wake up early to watch this extraordinary event. According to Krueger, the lunar eclipse will occur as the moon sets along the western horizon in Corpus Christi and the best time to view it will be from 5:48-6:30 a.m. Unlike the solar eclipse of August 2017, the super blue blood moon is safe to view with the naked eye.

Krueger teaches astronomy at the Island University, which has a space observatory that opened in 2001. Krueger has plants to apply for a grant that will provide much-needed updates to the space observatory and possibly open it to the public. This semester, as she teachers her solar systems lab, she will be incorporating the rare moon into her lessons.

“The moon phases and eclipses are very useful to our class, so I love it when one coincides with the semester,” said Krueger.

The super blue blood moon is just the start of an exciting line-up of stellar events taking place this year, says Krueger. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will align in the same part of the sky in early March. While Venus will be close to the crescent moon in the middle of July, which Krueger says will make it look like a “Pac Man” is eating the planet. In December, Comet 46P will also make its way across Earth’s skies.

“What’s great about the events this year, aside from the Comet 46P, is that you don’t need any special equipment to see them,” said Krueger. “So I encourage everyone to get out into their backyards and enjoy this year’s events.”