Three lunar events converged Wednesday morning with a clear view of the phenomena in Miami's pre-dawn sky.
MIAMI – The early morning sky above Miami was clear enough to offer up a view of a rare lunar trifecta dubbed by NASA the 'Super Blue Blood Moon' on Jan. 31.
Wednesday's full moon was special first for being a 'supermoon,' a full moon that can appear larger and up to 14 percent brighter according to NASA because it is near its perigee, or the closest point in its orbit to Earth.
Wednesday's full moon was also a 'blue moon' because it was the second to occur this month following the full moon on Jan. 2, which was also a supermoon.
Topping it all off was a total lunar eclipse, also referred to as a 'blood moon,' as the moon passed directly through the Earth's shadow in the pre-dawn hours of Jan. 31.
During a total lunar eclipse when the Moon moves through the Earth's umbra, the darkest center portion of a shadow, direct sunlight is blocked while some still reaches the Moon's surface creating the signature reddish hue.
The total lunar eclipse, lasting just over two and a half hours, was viewable in Miami between 4:51 a.m. and 7:24 a.m. Wednesday. It was the first total lunar eclipse since 2015 and the first blue, blood moon visible from the U.S. since 1866, according to Space.com.
NASA live-streamed the event showing footage from telescopes at its Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory on NASA TV, NASA.gov/live, and YouTube.
For researchers, NASA said the eclipse offered a chance to see what happens when the surface of the Moon cools quickly. That information will be used to study what is known as regolith, the mixture of soil and loose rocks on the moon's surface.
“During a lunar eclipse, the temperature swing is so dramatic that it’s as if the surface of the Moon goes from being in an oven to being in a freezer in just a few hours,” said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
If you missed the Jan. 31 lunar eclipse, NASA says the next opportunity will be Jan. 21, 2019 visible throughout all of the U.S., and will also be a supermoon.