Lynchburg readies itself for the Super Blue Blood Moon
Less than a year after 2017’s total solar eclipse, the United States will face another astronomical phenomenon — a Super Blue Blood Moon Wednesday, Jan. 31.
According to timeanddate.com, a Norwegian weather and time data company, the global event is a total lunar eclipse. However, the view of the event from Lynchburg will be limited to a partial lunar eclipse with no sign of redness visible. Lynchburg will not be in the path of totality for a lunar eclipse until Jan. 21, 2019.
Despite the path of the eclipse reaching totality on the West Coast and Hawaii, Liberty students can expect to see the fullness of the partial eclipse at 7:10 a.m. with the eclipse officially beginning at 5:51 a.m. The event will no longer be visible after moonset (7:19 a.m.).
“Because of the timing and lack of completeness of the eclipse, the chances of hosting an event (at the astronomical observatory) are lower,” Chair of the Department of Mathematics Scott Long wrote in an email.
Though the astronomical observatory does not currently have plans for the eclipse, Randy Tomkins, assistant professor of physics and mathematics at Liberty University, encouraged students to view and understand the eclipse on their own. He stated that the roof of DeMoss Hall is the best place on campus for observation, as the location offers a view of the horizon.
“I think for stuff like this, if (Christians) look at (astronomical events) and understand what’s going on, they can use that in conversations with others,” Tomkins said. “It also gives them a logical reason to argue for creation v. evolution.”
This “lunar trifecta,” as defined by NASA, is the intersection of a supermoon, a Blue Moon and a total lunar eclipse. Because of the lunar eclipse, the Blue Moon will appear red as a result of the sun’s light being refracted by Earth’s atmosphere. Space.com has recorded that less than five solar eclipses happen each year, while lunar eclipses are even more rare. At most, there can be four solar and three lunar eclipses per year, according to NASA.
“You can’t really get a lunar eclipse unless you’re in a full moon phase,” Tomkins said. “Every time you get a lunar eclipse, you already have a duo … which is rare … The trifecta being the supermoon, meaning it’s close (to earth). Very close.”
Aside from the rarity of this event, the supermoon is also the third in a series of supermoons during the months of December 2017 and January 2018. Charisma News cited several Jewish leaders claiming that supermoons are a sign of God’s judgment or indicators of prophecies coming to fruition. However, Tomkins debunked this theory, stating that astronomical phenomena such as these have happened multiple times in the 2,000 years since the New Testament account.
Rather than viewing eclipses as a sign of the end times, Tomkins suggested viewing them as evidence of God’s glory.
“Even when I was a kid and I’d never heard about God or anything else … I looked up at the heavens and thought, ‘Something has got to be there,'” Tomkins said. “(The heavens) broadcast something bigger than us.”
To support this, Tomkins pointed out that Earth’s moon is the largest in comparison to the planet, allowing Earth to have eclipses and full moons.
“There is no planet-moon pair in the solar system where the moon is as large compared to the planet as our moon is to us,” Tomkins said. “If it was any other way, we’d never have the beauty that we have from all this stuff.”