For the first time in over 150 years, the U.S. had a chance Wednesday morning to see a total lunar eclipse coinciding with a blue moon and supermoon. Alaskans had one of the best viewing opportunities in the nation.

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A Super Moon happens when the full moon closely coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth. Wednesday morning’s full moon will be one day after the moon comes within 223,069 miles of Earth. When the moon is this close it appears larger and brighter.


A “Blue Moon” is the second of two full moons in a calendar month. They happen once every two to three years. The moon will be full for the second time this month Wednesday at 4:26 a.m. making this full moon a “Blue Moon”.


When the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon, it covers the moon with its shadow, called a total lunar eclipse. When the moon is in the shadow, it can appear red giving it the nickname “Blood Moon”

The eclipse event begins in Anchorage at 1:51 a.m. when the Earth’s penumbra begins to cover the moon. The penumbra is when the Sun is only partially blocked by Earth. This portion of the eclipse is not easily seen with the naked eye.

The partial eclipse began at 2:48 a.m. when the Earth’s shadow started to fully cover the moon -- an event visible to the naked eye.

The moon was completely covered by the Earth’s shadow at 3:51 a.m. and the moon stayed covered until 5:07 a.m. until the shadow began to move to the other side. The partial eclipse ended at 6:11 a.m. and the final penumbral eclipse ended at 7:08 a.m.

When the sun is blocked from the moon’s surface, the temperature on the moon drops.

“During a lunar eclipse, the temperature swing is so dramatic that it’s as if the surface of the moon goes from being in an oven to being in a freezer in just a few hours,” said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Researchers gathered data during the eclipse to learn more about the surface of the moon.  

“These studies will help us tell the story of how impacts large and small are changing the surface of the moon over geological time,” said Petro.

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