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Photos: A total lunar eclipse turned a supermoon blood red—for the first time in 33 years

Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach
Terrestrial magic in the sky.
  • Akshat Rathi
By Akshat Rathi

Senior reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Half the world saw its skies go dark as Earth blocked the full moon’s main source of light on Sunday night (Sept. 27). But then the sunlight scattered through Earth’s thin atmosphere and made the moon turn blood red.

What the world saw was a rare phenomenon, termed the super blood moon. The last time it was seen was in 1982.

A supermoon is one where, because of its elliptical orbit, the moon finds itself at the closest distance to Earth and appears nearly 14% bigger than when it is at its farthest distance. A super blood moon occurs when, during its perigee, the moon undergoes a total eclipse.

The blood red color is the result of Rayleigh scattering. The process gives the sky its blue color, and it occurs because the many wavelengths of light that make up sunlight are selectively scattered by particles in Earth’s atmosphere. The shorter wavelengths on the violet side of a VIBGYOR rainbow are scattered more easily than the red side. So the moon turns red because that is the light that most escapes Earth’s thin atmosphere.

Unlike a solar eclipse, the lunar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs at nearly the same time in all the parts of the world it is visible. Here is a selection of the best views seen around the world:

Reuters/Mike Blake
A blood moon rises behind a hilltop residence in Solana Beach, California on Sept. 27.
Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann
The moon, appearing in a dim red color, is covered by the Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse over the peak of Mount Rigi, Switzerland, on Sept. 28.
Flickr/David Wood under CC-BY
The super blood moon Mount Shasta in northern California on Sept. 27.
Reuters/Ruben Sprich
A supermoon rises in the sky next to the Swiss Parliament building in Bern, Switzerland, on Sept. 28.
Reuters/Charles Platiau
The moon, appearing next to the Eiffel Tower in a dim red color, is covered by the Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse over Paris on Sept. 28.
Reuters/David Mercado
A woman photographs a picture of the supermoon during a total lunar eclipse over La Paz, Bolivia on Sept. 27.
Reuters/Toby Melville
The supermoon is seen during a lunar eclipse behind pods of the London Eye wheel in London on Sept. 28.
Flickr/Pete under CC-BY
A photography enthusiast combined the many phases of the super blood moon on Sept. 28 to create this wonderful image.
Reuters/Kacper Pempel
A man takes a picture of the screen displaying the moon, appearing in a dim red color, which is covered by the Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse in Warsaw, Poland on Sept. 28.

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