‘Super blood moon’ excites UB campus
Students and faculty react to Sunday night’s super moon lunar eclipse
If you went outside Sunday night – or were on the Internet – chances are you know the moon was red and looked closer to Earth than usual.
Thousands of pictures of the moon, dubbed a ‘super blood moon,’ were tweeted, snapchatted and shown on news stations throughout the world Sunday night.
The hype was concerning a combination of elements that happen together only rarely.
Super moons are when the moon is in the closet part of its orbit to Earth. On Sunday, the super moon occurred during a lunar eclipse, which is when the moon, the sun and the Earth are in exact alignment. It occurs about twice a year and is what caused the moon to appear red.
This particular lunar eclipse was the last of a tetrad, or cycle of four lunar eclipses occurring exactly six months apart. The last super moon lunar eclipse was in 1982 and the next one won’t happen until 2033.
The Buffalo chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) held an astronomy event in the field next to Governors Complex to help students to see the eclipse.
“We brought out two telescopes for people to get a closer look at the moon,” said Kristina Monakhova, a senior engineering major and president of the Buffalo chapter. “There was a lot of interest – about 100 people stopped by to look through the telescope and take cool pictures of the eclipse.”
Clouds covered the moon for much of the night, so those who were able to see it were fortunate.
William Kinney, a physics professor, thinks that the media fabricates the hype and that the sighting isn’t as exciting as everyone may think.
“The term ‘supermoon’ was invented in 1979 and isn’t even used by scientists,” Kinney said. “It’s become fashionable, even though it’s a relatively common occurrence, and it’s very beautiful.”
Kinney said that the same factor that makes the sunset red is what makes the moon appear red: the Earth’s atmosphere bending the sun’s light.
He said that the tetrad cycle the moon is part of is just a periodic occurrence.
“The tetrad began in April two years ago, then occurred again in September, then again this past April, and now in September,” Kinney said. “Alignment of orbit means eclipses are periodic and they become periodic every few years.”
Solar eclipses are much more rare, according to Kinney, because they can only be seen in one area of the world, whereas a lunar eclipse can be seen anywhere that the moon has fallen that night.
Despite Kinney’s intellectual opinion, many students were excited about the super blood moon and took the time to go outside and take pictures.
Megan Giannino, a senior health and human services major, made sure she took the time to go outside and see it.
“I sat outside for a while and looked at it, then I went back in to do some work,” Giannino said. “I went back out a little later, and it looked different – it was really cool to see the change.”
Giannino said she had heard about the super moon and saw it posted throughout social media.
“I think it’s interesting that we had our time to see it, since it doesn’t happen often,” she said.
Katharine Stogsdill on the other hand, a junior legal studies and psychology major, saw the moon but only for a little while.
“I went outside for about 10 minutes,” Stogsdill said. “Nothing else happened and nothing changed so once I saw it, that was it.”
Whether or not the super blood moon was truly a rare occurrence, people all over the country took time to step away from their televisions and look outside at the night sky.
Tori Roseman is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.