Watch webcast of super blue blood moon eclipse

Updated: Watch total lunar eclipse on NASA TV here:

https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#public

A calendrical quirk of the universe is uniting a super moon, blue moon and total lunar eclipse this week — a rare assembly that hasn’t happened over the continental U.S. since 1866.

The moon begins to set behind the First Baptist Church during a lunar eclipse, October 8, 2014, in West Palm Beach. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Adding to the cosmic indulgence in Wednesday’s pre-dawn sky is the moon will be near perigee, when the Earth’s only natural satellite is closest in its orbit and may appear slightly brighter and bigger, thus earning it the moniker “super moon.”

A blue moon is popularly defined as the second full moon in a month, which is an event that happens about every 2.7 years on average.

Even for austere astronomers, who frown on routine celestial events getting underserved hype, this triple lunar treat is an affair of note.

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“It’s an astronomical trifecta,” said Kelly Beatty, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. “Situations like this that cause people to go out and be curious are a good thing, but you don’t want to oversell it so people are thinking they are going to see Star Wars.”

What is being touted across social media is a “super blue blood moon.” A total lunar eclipse is sometimes referred to as a blood moon because it can take on a red hue as the light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere.

“This uses up all the superlatives; super moon, blue moon, lunar eclipse. What else is there?” said Florida Atlantic University astronomy professor Eric Vandernoot. “I don’t like the term blood moon, because it’s never blood red, it’s more peachy, and looks like a big peach in the sky.”

South Florida won’t get the full eclipse, but read the rest of the story at MyPalmBeachPost.com to find out how to see a partial eclipse. 

A super moon rises over the Boynton Beach Inlet in Boynton Beach, Florida on September 8, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

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Ring of fire rises in the sky this week with annular solar eclipse

A ring of fire will appear in the sky this week with a Sept. 1 annular solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse of 2016 reaches totality in this still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia, where it was March 9 local time during the eclipse. - See more at: http://www.space.com/32198-total-solar-eclipse-2016-pictures.html#sthash.iCglzL3j.dpuf
Still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia. 

But North America will have to turn to live webcasts to see the event, which will only be visible in swath of Central Africa.

An annular solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers only the sun’s center, leaving its outer edges to burn like a ring of fire, according to Slooh.com.  The event begins at 2:13 a.m. EST.

The website TimeandDate.com says annular solar eclipses occur only when the four follow factors are in play:

  • The Moon is a new Moon.
  • The Moon is at or near a lunar node.
  • The Earth, Moon and Sun are perfectly aligned in a straight line.
  • The Moon is at its apogee.
Capture
The path of Sept. 1’s annular solar eclipse.

There are four eclipses in 2016. The first was March 9 and was visible in Indonesia and parts of the Pacific Ocean. March 23rd marked a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Then there’s this week’s annular solar eclipse and another penumbral lunar eclipse Sept. 16.

“The year’s fourth and final eclipse is another barely-there circumstance during which the Moon again slides through Earth’s vague outer shadow,” writes Kelly Beatty of Sky and Telescope magazine. “Dusky shading on the lunar disk’s northern half should be easy to spot when the eclipse reaches its maximum at 18:54 UT.”

The real show will be Aug. 21, 2017 when the first total solar eclipse visible in North America in nearly 40 years will occur.

Map of path taken by Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse. See NASA's interactive solar eclipse map here.
Map of path taken by Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse. See NASA’s interactive solar eclipse map here.