Planetarium Department chairman Ken Trantham with the University of Nebraska-Kearney confirms it is extremely rare to see a super blood moon lunar eclipse.
“Just a very rare set of circumstances in which you have the lunar eclipse at the same time as the moon happens to be closest in its orbit to the earth and so it looks a little bit bigger, that’s why we call it a super moon,” Trantham tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KXPN. “And, the red color actually comes from filtered sunlight through the earth’s atmosphere shining on the moon.”
A full moon in September is spectacular enough. The Harvest Moon occurs, because it is closest to the autumnal equinox. As a “super moon,” the moon shines about 30% brighter and is 14% larger than normal. We won’t see a moon like that again for nearly 20 years.
It was the final performance of a moon which has put on quite a show over the past year or so; the final of four total lunar eclipses. The next total lunar eclipse visible in Nebraska will be in January of 2018. We won’t see another combination like last night until 2032.
Trantham says the red tint added luster to the night sky.
“Kind of like seeing sunsets around the world,” according to Trantham. “For the same reason that a sunset is red, that light just kind of skims the earth’s surface and then that’s why we see red on the moon when this happens.”
Many Nebraskans went to planetariums to view the event, though it was easily visible to the naked eye.
Brent Weithorn, KXPN, contributed to this article.