Watch webcast of super blue blood moon eclipse

Updated: Watch total lunar eclipse on NASA TV here:

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 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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Hunger moon becomes full at 1:20 p.m. today

As the days begin to linger but the cold is still bitter, the hunger moon makes its appearance in the night skies of winter.

Today at 1:20 p.m, the waxing gibbous moon gives way to February’s full moon, which was dubbed the hunger moon because hunting for food became more difficult as the heaviest snows fall.

2012 Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post
2012 Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

Full moon names come from the Native Americans who based the monikers on the seasons and changes in their lives as the Earth turns warm to cold with its revolution around the sun.

Read about November’s full beaver moon here. 

The February moon is also called the snow moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

“Other Native American tribes called this moon the ‘shoulder to shoulder around the fire moon’, the ‘no snow in the trails moon’ and the ‘bone moon,'” the Almanac notes. “The bone moon meant that there was so little food that people gnawed on bones and ate bone marrow.”