By: Brandon Tipton
A local photographer, Rylan Meadows, sent us some fantastic shots he took of last week’s Super Flower Blood Moon. Now, that’s a fancy name if I’ve ever heard one. Let’s break it down so we can better understand what exactly happened in the sky early Wednesday morning, shall we? Let’s start with Super. A super moon is a full moon that appears larger than usual. Super moons occur because the moon’s orbit around the earth is not a perfect circle, it is more of an oval which scientists like to call an ellipse (more fancy words). This ovular orbit means that sometimes the moon is actually closer to us than at other times. When it is closer in it’s orbit it appears noticeably larger and puts on one heck of a show.
Next, what makes a moon a Flower Moon? It was called a Flower Moon because it happened in May. Each year there are twelve full moons, one during each month. Sometimes there are two full moons during a month, referred to as a Blue Moon. Each of those twelve full moons is given a special name based on what’s going on down below as it is occurring. These lunar nicknames start in January with the Wolf Moon, the Snow Moon of February, March’s Death or Worm Moon, April’s Pink Moon, May’s Flower Moon, June’s Strawberry moon, July’s Buck Moon, August’s Sturgeon Moon, September’s Harvest or Corn Moon, October’s Hunter’s Moon, November’s Beaver Moon and finally December’s Cold Moon. Many of these names are based in Native American folk wisdom while others were probably based upon early colonists observations. Some of them make more sense than others. Here in Kentucky the flowers start blooming much earlier in the year than May. We were enjoying Dogwood blossoms most of April! But in New England, where the colonials got their start it’s a bit chillier and many flowers may wait until later in the season to begin blooming. So a full moon in May is a Flower Moon.
Finally we come to Blood Moon. It sounds a bit ghoulish but it was nothing to be frightened of. There was a lunar eclipse on Wednesday night. The eclipse was best viewed in the western states and on Pacific Islands. Here at home we didn’t see the full shadow, but the moon was just occluded enough to give it an orange tinge which is known as a Blood Moon or ‘blood on the moon’.
So, Mr. Meadows managed to snap some great photos of a full moon that was closer to the earth than usual, occurred in May and occurred during a lunar eclipse, giving us a Super Flower Blood Moon. We really appreciated Ryan sharing his photos with us. If you would like to see Rylan about shooting some photographs for you you can find him @rylansamazingphotography on Facebook.