Sometimes extraordinary things have to be done. And sometimes they have to be done at night. One of these nights was in the morning of September 28th, when there was a super blood moon above Europe. It made us wake up at 1 in the morning, walk 4 km up a hill and stay there almost until sunrise.
Twice a year during super moon there is a full moon when the moon is on its closest point to Earth. The moon’s area is then 30% larger than on its furthest point and so does its brightness increase.
A total lunar eclipse, thus the blacking out of the moon, requires a special constellation of Sun, Earth and moon. When the Earth is between Sun and moon and they perfectly align, the Earth’s shadow falls on the moon and thus it will be eclipsed. But this means in no case that no light falls on the moon and you cannot see it. Due to Rayleigh scattering, the Sun’s light is scattered onto the moon. Just like afterglow in the evening, this light is red and illuminates the moon in a mysterious reddish colour. Due to the color of the moon, the total lunar eclipse is also called blood moon.
The coincidence of super moon and total lunar eclipse is very rare and happens only every 15 to 30 years. Apart from this Monday it occurred for the last time in 1985 and we will have to wait until 2033 to see it again. That is why we decided to make this night a special night and wake up very early. We then took our hiking shoes and some warm tea and walked to a ski lane in the west of Stockholm called Flottsbro. From there one has a great view on lake Mälaren and the sky.
Even though the forecast promised a clear sky, these hopes were soon barked by the Swedish weather as dense clouds gathered above us. The moon was still visible and we could watch it become covered by the Earth’s shadow. Unfortunately when the moon was fully covered and should have become red, the clouds were so dense that we could not see it anymore. But as the eclipse should last for more than an hour, we put all our hopes in the small gaps in the clouds that occasionally passed the sky. Gap after gap missed the moon’s position and we started feeling cold.
But then finally one cloud gap found the desired position and the super blood moon was visible for around 20 seconds. As described, the moon was red and big. And amazing. Maybe the moment would have been less exciting if we had not waited so long for it.
On our way back we were happy that the night finally revealed what we were looking for, but we were looking forward to sleeping as well. If it just weren’t Monday…