A ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ just happened — here’s what it means

The Super Blood Wolf Moon captivated those who witnessed it. Photo by Chad Rachman via The New York Post.

It may sound like something straight out of a Young Adult fantasy novel, but it definitely happened in real life.

Earlier today, the world got to witness a particularly rare astronomical phenomenon: that of the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’. You’ve probably not heard of this particular supernatural-sounding event before, and with reason — they’re especially uncommon, and when they do happen, they’re not always seen everywhere around the globe. Indeed, this particular Super Blood Wolf Moon was only seen in its entirety by those in North and South America, Europe, and Western Africa, as reported by CNN. Those of us in Asia and Western Africa were also be treated to a partial eclipse as well, although most of the action happened during the daytime. 

But before busting out the telescopes or scrolling through Twitter for images, you might be wondering what exactly the supernatural-sounding moniker of this phenomenon actually means. Let’s break it down:

Basically, there are three aspects to this particular phenomenon: it’s a blood moon, a super moon, and a wolf moon — all rolled into one, all happening at the same time.

The first part is the blood moon — which, technically, is a total lunar eclipse — a rare phenomenon in itself. A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon, during its orbit, forms perfect alignment with the earth and the sun. The perfect alignment then causes light from the sun to cast a shadow on the moon, in turn causing it to darken into a dark reddish color, hence its ‘blood moon’ name.

Graphic of what happens during a lunar eclipse (Image from AccuWeather).

What makes this particular total lunar eclipse extraordinary, however, is that the very moon itself that was eclipsed is a supermoon — meaning that the moon’s orbit was at its closest to earth, thus making it appear larger than usual.

And finally, that ‘wolf’ part: as if it couldn’t be more dramatic, full moons occurring in January were historically named ‘Wolf Moons’ in Native American folklore, according to The Old Farmers Almanac, as more wolves were heard howling on that particular time of the year.

So there you have it: the ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’. Although its presence may not have been particularly felt as much in our parts, you can still be on the lookout for any future astronomical-border lining-supernatural phenomena in future. Check out Griffith Observatory’s timelapse of the full event below:

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