Lunar Eclipse for a Lunar New Year!
It is a delight when students return from a school holiday to share their photos, stories, and experiences with the rest of the Grier community. While eighth-grade student Nicole K. was at home in Seoul, Korea during Winter Break, she had the opportunity to witness a Lunar Eclipse that was not visible to her Grier classmates and teachers in the Western Hemisphere.
Her Earth Science teacher, Mrs. Fernandes, talked about the names Americans sometimes use to describe the full moons. Most of these names are based on Native American traditions and observations. For instance, the January “Wolf Moon” refers to the harshness of winter and how wolves howl at the moon in the winter, when prey is scarce and they are hungry. In Spring, the March Worm Moon is named after the appearance of worm-hunting birds such as robins and April’s Pink Moon refers to early blooming mid-western wildflowers. Fall moon names include the Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon.
Blue Moons, Mrs. Fernandes notes, are not actually blue in color. Blue Moons are simply the coincidence of having a second full moon in one month. Since the moon’s cycle is 28 days and months are 31 days at their longest, this is a relatively rare occurrence, hence, the expression “once in a blue moon” to mean something that only happens rarely. In 2020, this will happen in October when there is a full moon on October 1st and another on October 31st.
Blood Moon is a term for a moon during a lunar eclipse, during which the moon can appear reddish because of the shadow. Lunar eclipses occur a few times each year. A Super Moon refers to the time when the moon is at its perihelion, or its closest to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, which means that it is a bit bigger, than at other times of the year. Astronomy fans can mark April 8th on their calendars when there will be a Super Pink Moon! Of course, like the Blue Moon, the Pink moon won’t actually be pink!
Astronomy Club and the Andrew Wilson Observatory at Grier provide students with excellent opportunities to explore the universe from the comfort of their own school grounds.