Tonight the moon has a nifty name, the Super Flower Blood Moon. While the name sounds like something rare and amazing, the parts of the name are just from normal occurrences. Here is a break down of what each part means.
The moon doesn’t circle the Earth at an equal distance. At times the it is closer to our planet, at times a little farther. A Supermoon is when the earth is less than 223,694 miles from the center of Earth. A less-hyped Micromoon is when the moon is farther than 261,655 miles from the center of the Earth.
Both of these events happen a few times a year. In fact this is the second Super Moon of the year, the third will be occurring next month. This means 25% of the full moons this year are Supermoons. There are also two more Supermoons when there is a new moon, November and December, but the moon is not visible when it is in the new phase.
So how super is the Super Moon? Really not that super. It’s only about 6-7% larger than the average moon which is really not something the average human eye can notice.
In fact, if you take a picture of the Supermoon and then of a regular moon, they both will be small to your camera. Why the moon seems so large at the horizon is an optical illusion to our eyes. Here is a picture of tonight’s SuperMoon taken by Brian Tulwits.
This part of the name really is just the name of the full moon for the month of May. Every moon has its own nickname. It comes from the full moon closest to when the flowers are in full Spring bloom. So regardless of the distance of the moon, every May moon is the Flower Moon.
A blood moon is a little less common. This is when we have a full lunar eclipse. An eclipse of the moon occurs when the Earth’s shadow blocks the light of the sun from reaching the moon. Even though the direct light from the sun, some reddish light is bent around the Earth’s atmosphere and causes a reddish tint of the moon. This is different than the more common red to orange color that the moon shows when it is close to the horizon. Unfortunately as the chart below shows, the moon sets shortly after the eclipse starts.