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Science & Research

Idaho In Good Position For Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse

Brian Day
NASA Ames Research Center
A total lunar eclipse in San Jose, California on April 15, 2014.

Idaho is gearing up for a "super blue blood moon" on Wednesday, though the name might be a bit misleading. That’s when three celestial events happen all at the same time.

Let’s start with the blood moon. Brian Jackson, physics professor at Boise State University, says that’s the name often given to a total lunar eclipse, when the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth.

“The moon can look really kind of brooding and red so people refer to that often as a blood moon because it looks kind of like the color of blood,” says Jackson.

During a lunar eclipse, some of the light from the sun refracts around the atmosphere. The typical blue light gets scattered away, leaving the red light which gets focused on the moon, turning it red.

The eclipse will also happen during what’s known as a "super moon."

“The moon will be passing through perigee: that’s when it’s closest to the Earth in its orbit,” says Jackson.

That makes the moon appear unusually large in the sky. It will also be a full moon, the second one in January, which is where the name blue moon comes in.

“It’s a fun thing to see, you’ve got the confluence of these three different lunar events all of once. It’ll be a neat event to see so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for clear weather,” Jackson says.

But you'll have to get up early Wednesday to see the super blue blood moon.

“The total lunar eclipse will start at 4:48 a.m. in the morning for us on Mountain Standard Time and the total eclipse will last about an hour and 40 minutes, so just shy of two hours. So folks who are early risers will definitely be able to see this,” Jackson says.

The eclipse should last an hour and 40 minutes, assuming there’s no fog or clouds.

Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio

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