Stephen O'Meara
Image taken:
Dec. 31, 2009
Volcano, Hawaii
This was quite a loony moonrise. Of course, one can always hope that given the right atmospheric conditions, with help from mie scattering, that a "blue Moon" rising just might actually appear blue. And given that this year's blue Moon was special, occurring not only on New Year's Eve, not only at lunar perigee, but also during a lunar eclipse, imagine the surprise my wife Donna and I had when we saw a blood-red Moon rise over our eastern Hawaiian horizon. The Moon certainly wasn't blue, and it certainly wasn't in eclipse (that occurred over Africa), but Moon certainly looked like it was experiencing totality, with the lunar highlands appearing a bit more yellowish than red/orange. Add the Moon illusion, and this colorful, larger-than-normal perigee Moon was quite the spectacle, causing us to gasp. Why was it red? Well, our island was experiencing Kona winds, which reverses the normal northeast trades. Under these conditions, volcanic smog (Vog) from a fuming vent called Pu'u O'o (which is about to celebrate its 27th anniversary of near continuous eruption on January 3rd) backs up over the towns and villages near my home in Volcano, Hawaii. Thus, we were seeing the Moon rise through a dense layer of sulfuric fume, which scattered the short wavelengths of light effectively and created this warm view of a cool-yule Moon. Considering the color of the Moon, I called it a Blueblood Moon.
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