HAMILTON — Meteorologist Corby Dickerson has some advice for anyone thinking about rising early to watch the blood moon/blue moon/supermoon on Wednesday morning.
“You could literally set your alarm, wake and roll out of bed. If you see snow, and don’t see any stars, then go back to sleep,” said Dickerson, who is with the National Weather Service in Missoula. “It probably will be mostly cloudy throughout the night and into the morning. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some patches in the clouds, but I can say with good confidence you will not see the sky that morning.”
The “blue moon” nickname for Tuesday night’s moon is the second full moon in January – hence that “once in a blue moon” cliché.
December featured a supermoon, a moniker has to do with the moon’s size. Since the moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, during a supermoon it’s closer to the Earth and looks larger and brighter than normal. The official astronomical term is a “perigee full moon.”
Experts recommend viewing the supermoon shortly after the sun sets on Tuesday night, which is around 5:40 p.m. But again, Mother Nature won’t cooperate in western Montana.
“There’s a cold front on the way, and we expect it to get here in the middle of the night (Monday),” Dickerson said. “There’s some clearing developing, but that won’t be consistent. It gets a little better as far as the potential goes, but it will still be a hit-or-miss kind of thing.”
The “blood moon” term comes from the lunar eclipse that will begin at 3:51 a.m. Wednesday, according to the timeanddate.com website. The full eclipse begins at 5:51 a.m., and by 6:30 a.m. is expected to be at maximum coverage. The lunar eclipse ends at 7:07 a.m.
Meteorologically speaking, Dickerson said the best opportunity for people in western Montana to see the blood moon/blue moon/supermoon is in the southern Bitterroot area or the corridor between Drummund and Butte.
“With these types of showers, it’s inevitable that there will be periods of clearing in the southern Bitterroot, where there’s not as many showers, maybe south of Stevensville,” he said. “Also, south from Drummond all the way to Butte. That area might have a better chance of being out of the clouds for longer periods of time.”