In Brief

Super wolf blood moon - in pictures

Rare combination of three major lunar phenomena was visible in Europe early on Monday

Stargazers enjoyed a rare treat overnight in the form of a total lunar eclipse known as the super blood wolf moon.

The celestial phenomenon made the Moon appear larger and dark red, and was visible in North and South America on Sunday night and in Europe in the early hours of Monday.

“From Alaska to the Caribbean and down to Argentina, the total lunar eclipse mesmerised millions of people,” reports Space.com. Many on the US East Coast “braved the chilly weather” to see the spectacle, which occurs when the Moon passes through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, the site adds.

Telescope service Slooh filmed the event for a live webcast, with astronomer Paul Cox telling viewers: "It doesn’t matter who you are... these celestial events can become quite overwhelming.”

In the UK, the optimum viewing time was around 5.12am, while the clearest skies were in the far southeast and over northern and western regions, says The Guardian. Other areas were fairly cloudy, obscuring the incredible sight.

The name super blood wolf moon is derived from a combination of three separate phenomena affecting the Moon simultaneously: a blood moon, supermoon and wolf moon.

Whereas a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow completely covers the Moon, a blood moon happens when a refraction of light through the Earth’s shadow during an eclipse gives the Moon a reddish hue.

A supermoon refers to a period when a full moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, making it appear up to 15% larger than normal, while wolf moon is simply a Native American name for full moons in January, according to the Daily News Journal

Earth experiences two to five supermoons every year, while the gap between blood moons is anywhere from six months to about three years, reports CNet.

“You can also plan on around one to five super blood moons each decade, but they only fall in January three times this century,” the news site adds.

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