Q&A

Tips for catching rare 'super blue blood moon' in Saskatchewan

Skywatchers across the western half of North America will be drawn out in the early hours of Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of what's being called a "super blue blood moon."

This rare lunar event will combine a lunar eclipse, super moon and blue moon

A lunar eclipse coincides with a so-called 'super moon' in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England on Sept. 28, 2015. This week's eclipse will be visible to viewers in Regina and Saskatoon beginning at 6:51 a.m. CST Wednesday. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

Skywatchers across the western half of North America will be drawn out in the early hours of Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of what's being called a "super blue blood moon."

The lunar event will combine a super moon, blue moon and a lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible to viewers in Regina and Saskatoon beginning at 6:51 a.m. CST Wednesday, reaching a maximum at 7:29 a.m. CST.

The weather is expected to be marginal in Saskatchewan Wednesday morning. Tuesday's storm system will be clearing out but patchy cloud cover will remain during the lunar eclipse. 

If you spy a break in those clouds, look up because this collision of lunar events has not been seen in North America for over 150 years.

CBC meteorologist Christy Climenhaga spoke with Vance Petriew, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Regina Centre, about this rare astronomical event.

What is a blood moon?

A blood moon is a total lunar eclipse where the moon will pass through the Earth's shadow, and in doing so turns kind of an orange red colour. It's beautiful to watch.

Here in Regina, we're pretty fortunate. We get a chance to see it early in the morning, so if you're driving into work at around 7:30 A.M. CST, take a look out in the southwest. There's a good chance you'll see it. 

Why are they calling this a "super blue blood moon?"

The super moon is a term that astronomers have defined as when a full moon happens closer than 359,000 kilometres in its orbit. So anytime the moon is closer than that and is a full moon, it's called a super moon. 

Super moons usually come in triplets. So we're actually in the third full moon in a super moon triplet.

The blue moon is basically a function of our Gregorian calendar, [and refers to] having two full moons in a single month. That's what we have coming up here in January and, because there is [no full moon] in February, we have the same thing happening in March.

Vance Petriew is the president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Regina Centre. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Will recent volcanic activity have an effect on the colour of the lunar eclipse?

Typically the volcanic ash will sometimes turn the moon more of a blue colour. And in this case, when the moon is closer to the Earth, it's deeper red. So the further the eclipse happens away from the Earth, the more orange it looks.

Any tips for shutterbugs who want to capture the eclipse?

It's going to be pretty low on the horizon, so you're going to want to have a good view of your horizons. Otherwise, be sure to take a look behind — you will also have a nice sunrise as well.