DENVER (CBS4) – Coloradans gathered in northeast Denver to watch a rare celestial event in the night sky early Wednesday morning.
Early risers gathered with telescopes, binoculars and breakfast at the Bluff Lake Nature Center — where the glow of the city lights is at a minimum — to see the Super Blue Blood Moon.
“It’s a pretty once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it’s so great that Bluff Lake put this on,” said Jenna Van Wyke. “Really cool!”
Why that name? It’s a combination of “Supermoon” (when the Moon is full at it’s closest distance to Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter), “Blue Moon” (when a calendar month has a Full Moon twice) and “Blood Moon” (a name given for the reddish color seen during a total lunar eclipse).
All three happened at once Wednesday morning, for the first time in the country since before Colorado became a state (the last time was 1866).
A very thin layer of clouds partially obscured the show in the night sky, but it wasn’t enough to destroy the experience. The lunar eclipse started at approximately 5:50 a.m. and moon viewing was a must until daybreak when the moon set over the mountains.
“I went to see the total eclipse on the (August) 21st and this is kind of the bookend,” said Glen Dumond. “I wanted to see how it all closes. It’s pretty cool.”
The moon wasn’t actually be blue, but it appeared to be red. That’s because of dust in the atmosphere as the moon passes in the earth’s shadow.
“The sunlight is still filtering through the earth’s atmosphere, and so there’s this ring of red that’s falling on the moon from all the sunsets and all the sunrises on the earth,” said Dr. Ka Chun Yu of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, who was up early at the nature center.
Despite the cold temperatures, Denverites were cheery with coffee, cameras and lawn chairs at the center.
“Here in Stapleton at this spot at the top of the bluff you have a 360 nearly unobstructed view of the entire area,” said David Mallery, the executive director of the nature center.
Samantha Sands, an educator at the museum, told CBS4 on Tuesday the trifecta treat has an effect on the moon. It spends a long time in the earth’s shadow, so it cools dramatically.
“Scientists are actually going to be looking through telescopes and using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is a satellite that goes around the moon, to kind of watch and see what happens to the moon during that cooling period,” she said.