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Rare ‘lunar trifecta’ battles cloud cover to make appearance in night skies over Japan

by May Masangkay

Staff Writer

Many of the nation’s stargazers were treated to a celestial show Wednesday night with the appearance of a “super blue blood moon,” a phenomenon caused by the rare confluence of three lunar events.

According to NASA, which called the event a “lunar trifecta,” a supermoon appears larger and brighter than usual when the moon is near its perigee, or closest point to Earth during its orbit. A second full moon in a month is known as a blue moon, which occurs approximately every three years. A blood moon refers to the lunar body’s reddish tint as the Earth passes between the moon and the sun in an eclipse.

Although low atmospheric pressure clouded the skies in many parts of the country, the spectacle was clearly visible in some areas, including Nagoya, Osaka, Hokkaido and Tokyo.

According to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a partial eclipse started at 8:48 p.m., with a total lunar eclipse taking place at 9:51 p.m. The period during which the moon turned a red-copper hue lasted until around 11:08 p.m.

Naomi Ishikawa, with the NAOJ’s public relations center, said the event was a good chance to witness the full phase of a total lunar eclipse and that it took place during a good time slot this time around.

A total lunar eclipse previously occurred in Japan in April 2015 and lasted just 12 minutes.

On Wednesday, the moon began emerging from the Earth’s shadow at 11:08 p.m., returning to its original state past midnight.

Across the country, astronomical observatories and other locations held events for people to watch the cosmic spectacle.

NAOJ has launched an online campaign through Friday to collect comments from the public about what they saw.

The next total lunar eclipse will take place on July 28, but the conditions for observing it may be less favorable as the moon will set while the total eclipse is under way, NAOJ said. The phenomenon witnessed Wednesday night can next be observed in its entirety on Nov. 8, 2022.