What the hell is a Super Blue Blood Moon? Science and astrology explain

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So the Super Blue Blood Moon is here – here to spin you out more than Mercury retrograde, direct us to aliens, trigger the zombie apocalypse, who knows. Well – what we do know is it’s a rare event (this is the first time it’s happened since 1866) where three lunar phenomena happen at the same time. The ‘supermoon’ is when the moon is at or near its closest point to earth, the blue moon is the second full moon in a month, and the blood moon means the earth’s red-tinted shadow casts on the moon itself during an eclipse.

If you aren’t in the U.S, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand or Russia you can still watch the rare celestial event on livestreaming via NASA, the Virtual Telescope, and the University of Western Sydney.

According to Matthew Bothwell, an astronomer at Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy, there isn’t actually that much scientific research to be gained from this event, however rare – there’s no “astronomical significance at all”.

“A ‘blood’ moon is probably the most interesting from an astronomy point of view, though they are very common and there’s nothing we really learn from them, research-wise.”

“While there’s not science we can learn from this, it’s a great opportunity to get people interested in astronomy,” says Bothwell. “I think the best thing that could come out of this event would be getting people to take an interest in the interesting things in the night sky.”

The kinda terrifying name of the triple lunar eclipse is also a bit of a cop-out – it’s reported that ‘super moons’ happen three or four times a year, out of 12-13 full moons, so they’re quite common. The size of a ‘maximoon’ tends to be exaggerated too, at just 7 per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than what we usually see in the sky. The ‘super moon’ phrase was first brought into discourse by Richard Nolle, an astrologer, in 1979. It grew in popularity when the 2011 Japan earthquake was linked to the lunar eclipse.

The ‘blue’ moon’s name is derived from London slang, rather than science, first founded in 1821 by Pierce Egan in Real Life in London. ‘Blood’ moon also isn’t a strictly science-based name, and is found in biblical prophecy – the red moon is meant to be an omen for the end of times from the Book of Joel.

One of the more recent studies on how the position of the moon affects our sleep found that “full moons were associated with longer times to fall asleep, reduced sleep efficiency, and less overall sleep time.” It’s not totally understood why though – whether it’s environmental and to do with the lunar relationship with the tides or our internal biological rhythm, no one really knows yet.

According to Tim O'Brien, a professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, there may be something to learn from the phenomena. In a piece for the Conversation, he writes that the sunlight reflected on the moon during an eclipse could reveal other planets orbiting stars. He writes that “biosignatures such as oxygen, ozone or methane” that appear in the event’s atmosphere could “give away the presence of extraterrestrial life”.

Circling back to the science we all care most about – like what ice cream flavour best matches me as a Gemini – astrology has some things to offer about the Super Blue Blood Moon too. Eclipses are symbolic of change, or reveals – it’s literally a shadow coming and going. So maybe that means share a secret, be brave, make a big jump.

According to the Astro Twins, a celestial event like this is super potent. It’s in Leo – a sign that reflects “creativity, glamour, romance, and fertility”. “Many of us will be ‘giving birth’ at this potent lunation and seeing our efforts come to light in a bold and attention-getting way,” they write on MBG. This event holds so much astrological energy too, that its effects on star signs should last for “three days”.

The moon also finds us in the middle of the “Leo-Aquarius axis” eclipses. The Astro Twins detail that moments of bravery shown in the #MeToo movement characterise the strength reflected by both signs. “This eclipse continues to embolden us to reveal what's been hidden – and empower others by example,” they write.

Astrologer Chad Woodward on Mystic Mamma writes that it’s a moment to express “creative energy”, and with planets Venus and Jupiter in tow, there’s energy supplied for partying too. Nevertheless, he warns that “over the top displays of egotism” should be avoided: “Undeserved pride can lead to humiliating downfalls”.

So what can scientists and astrologers agree on? It’s not about the super cool, ominous-looking moons that may point us towards aliens, but the moons you meet on the way.