MILWAUKEE -- Skygazers around the world were treated Wednesday, Jan. 31 to a rare celestial convergence dubbed a "super blue blood moon." In Milwaukee, our FOX6 Weather Experts warned us not to expect much of a show, but that didn't stop more than a dozen early risers from trekking up to a rooftop, hoping for a break in the clouds.
When it came to pulling her 5-year-old out of bed and into the cold, dark January night -- Kate Schwartz didn't think twice.
"We decided this hasn't happened in many, many years, so we are going to do this," said Schwartz.
The cosmic event -- a combination of a lunar eclipse, blood moon and super moon -- was visible in the western hemisphere for the first time in 152 years.
That's why Schwartz and a dozen other eager stargazers climbed to the top of the Urban Ecology Center's Observation Deck.
"It's great to see the enthusiasm," said Bob Bonadurer, director of theater and planetarium.
Even when forecasters warned Mother Nature wasn't going to cooperate. A blustery breeze did its best -- but couldn't break up a blanket of clouds.
People in Australia, Asia and parts of Russia were treated to the lunar triple whammy during moon-rise on Jan. 31, while the show kicked off in North America from 5 a.m. CT.
"We've been eclipsed by our own weather," said Bonadurer.
But the night sky had plenty to offer.
"We saw Mars and Jupiter in the sky, the sunrise and just being with people celebrating this fantastic universe we live in," said Bonadurer.
What is a 'super blue blood moon?'
A "supermoon" occurs when a full moon falls at the same time as its perigee, which is the closest point of the moon's orbit with the Earth. This makes the moon larger and brighter by 14%, according to NASA. The first supermoon of 2018 took place on New Year's Day and was previously described by NASA as the "biggest and brightest" one expected for the entire year.
As the popular idiom suggests, blue moons are rare and refer to when there is a second full moon in one calendar month.
To complete the "lunar trifecta," the blood element is not a sign that the end is nigh, but occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the Earth, giving it a reddish copper color.
There are usually a couple of lunar eclipses each year so if you did miss it this time around, the next one will happen on July 27 -- though it won't be visible in North America. It'll be a long wait for skywatchers in the US as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on Jan. 21, 2019.