Second blue moon? Experts debunk presence in photos of another celestial body

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 01 2018 08:41 PM | Updated as of Feb 01 2018 09:17 PM

On a night when the so-called “super blue blood moon” was Wednesday night’s top celestial attraction, some people noticed a strange object sharing the same space in the sky.

The theory some were putting out on the pale blue dot? That it was a second moon, or a planet even.

A round blue circle appears beside the super moon in this photo taken on Wednesday by Dominic in Santa Maria, Bulacan.
A round blue speck appears on top of super moon in this image taken on Wednesday by Celine de Castro in Antipolo City.
A blue-like cloud can be seen on the right side of this image of super blue moon rising above the spewing Mayon Volcano during a mild eruption before a total lunar eclipse in Legazpi City on Wednesday. Erik De Castro, Reuters

Faster than people can say "unidentified floating object," local experts on anything outer space offered an explanation for the phenomenon that totally eclipsed the far-out notions.

“The blue speck is called a lens artifact or a lens flare,” PAGASA’s astronomical publication unit chief Jose Mendoza IV told ABS-CBN News.

“Ito ay nangyayari kapag ang nakukuhanan na very bright (object) ay nagkakaroon ng reflection.” 

The lens flare may also appear on photos that are out of focus, said Edmund Rosales, former president of the Philippine Astronomical Society.

Astronomers also explained why the “super blue blood moon” appeared to be blue in some parts of the country.

“Posibleng maging blue ang super blue blood moon kapag may gas o dust particles sa atmosphere kung saan ito tinitingnan,” Mendoza said.

Rosales added: “Kapag nag-agaw ‘yung bright light (ng buwan) sa red at orange (hues ng araw dahil sa eclipse), nagkakaroon ng parang spectrum kaya parang blue.”

Hundreds of Filipinos flocked to observation stations, rooftops and open fields Wednesday night to catch the super blue blood moon, a rare occurrence.

A “supermoon” is a full moon that appears around 14% larger and 30% brighter than the usual full moon. It appears when the moon orbits closest to Earth during its full phase.

A blue moon is the second full moon in a month (but the moon doesn’t turn blue), while a blood moon is seen when a full moon temporarily turns red during a total lunar eclipse due to the refraction of sunlight.

The last time the super blue blood moon was observed in the Philippines was on December 30, 1982. The last time this was seen in the US was in 1866, PAGASA said. — With a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News