Stargazers the world over must be in heaven right now. Last year saw a number of gorgeous celestial events, and 2018 has started out strong on the cosmic front. On January 31, a “super blue blood moon” graced the skies. If that name seems like a mouthful, there’s a reason, as it is essentially three events happening all at once. Super blue blood moon is also a bit easier for most people to say than the more scientific term — “perigee syzygy.”
First, it was a supermoon, meaning the moon is closer to the Earth than it normally is, making the moon loom larger and shine brighter. When the moon is at the closest point in its orbit to Earth, it is known as “perigee.”
Secondly, it was a blue moon, which is the term for when a second full moon occurs in the same calendar month, which occurs every couple years or so (hence the phrase “once in a blue moon”).
Finally, the moon on January 31 was also a blood moon, which is what happens during a total lunar eclipse. In a lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, making it appear a deep red. Three celestial bodies aligning is known as “syzygy,” which is a word that will make anyone regret playing Scrabble with you.
The super blue blood moon arrived less than two months after the supermoon in December 2017, and watchers in North America may have to wait a while until the next one. According to NASA, the next combination of a lunar eclipse and supermoon — visible from North America — will occur January 21, 2019.
For those who managed to catch a glimpse of the super blue blood moon, the sight was spectacular; for everyone else, there are pictures. Although a photo might not have the same imposing presence as the real thing, there are gorgeous shots from around the world, and we’ve compiled some of the best.
When architecture meets nature, the results are stunning, as is evident in this photo of the supermoon lurking behind the Çamlıca Mosque in Istanbul.
It’s rare enough for the moon, Earth, and sun to line up in perfect syzygy, so why not add a plane to the mix?
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Lady Liberty basks in the light of the blood moon.
Photo: Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images
This photo from New Delhi plays with perspective.
Photo: Burhaan Kinu/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A crowd gathers to watch the super blue blood moon in Beijing, China.
Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images
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- A faithful satellite drifts stunningly close: The best supermoon photos
- The last ‘supermoon’ total eclipse for 18 years happens Sunday night