The super blue blood moon: A trifecta of astronomical events

NEW YORK (WABC) -- If you're willing to wake up early Wednesday morning, a cosmic combination 150 years in the making awaits. The "super blue blood moon" is a trifecta of astronomical events wrapped into one pre-dawn sky.

Number one, we're going to have a supermoon, meaning that we'll have a particularly close full moon. That's because the moon follows an elliptical path around the Earth, kind of an oblong circle, meaning that the moon can be closer at some times and farther away at others. In the case of a supermoon, it'll be close. But these are not that rare by themselves, occurring four to six times per year.

Secondly, there's a blue moon, defined as the second full moon in a given calendar month. (No, it's not actually blue). January 1 was a full moon and January 31 is a full moon, so we call the second of the two the blue moon. And it literally lives up to the phrase "once in a blue moon," only occurring every 2.7 years on average.

Then there's something else that hasn't occurred in more than two years: A lunar eclipse. This is the final ingredient for the super blue blood moon.

RELATED: Here's how to watch the 'super blue blood moon' on Wednesday

The moon will be passing into the Earth's shadow, and when it does that, it can turn a really deep beautiful red depending on what's in the Earth's atmosphere, hence the name "blood moon."

We won't see a total lunar eclipse here in the tri-state area, and you'd have to head out west for that. But if you still want to take a look early Wednesday morning, get outside sometime between 6 and 7 a.m. and have a look in the western sky. That's where the moon will be setting, a setting moon that'll be extra special this time around.
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