Celebrate this month's "Super Blue Blood" Moon with a virtual race

Posted by Alison Klesman
on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lunar eclipses are sometimes called Blood Moons because they turn our satellite orange-red. // Photo Credit: Astronomy: Alison Klesman

If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year was to get active but you’re still struggling for motivation, you’re in luck — the Virtual Running Club, in partnership with Celestron, is offering the 2018 Inaugural Moonlight Virtual 5K/10K. And the reward for completing the race is a super-cool “Super Moon” medal to commemorate the Blue, Blood, and Super Moon of January 31, 2018.

What is a virtual race? It’s a race that you can run at any time and at any pace, as long as you complete the required distance either on or by the race date — in this case, January 31. The idea is to run (or walk, or bike, or hike) either the 5k or 10k race on the 31st, which is official “race day,” but if that date doesn’t work for you, you have from now until a month after the 31st to complete the race and submit your time.

Virtual races have a benefit that goes beyond convenience, too. Because they’re not organized events, you can choose how much you want to spend on your race, and the full cost of your “registration” goes into the swag you want. If you simply want the knowledge that you completed the race, you can do it for just $7 (which gets you a digital race bib to print). If you want a shirt, or a medal, or a printed bib, the cost will go up, but will cover both your race swag and the shipping.

The medal you can choose to receive for completing the 2018 Inaugural Moonlight Virtual 5K/10K. // Photo Credit: Virtual Running Club

I’ve personally completed two other races offered by the Virtual Running Club, and I can vouch that their medals and t-shirts are both top quality. The medal I received for running the Total Solar Eclipse Virtual 5K/10K last August remains one of my favorites, with a Moon that swings in and out to cover the Sun. For me, as both an astronomer and a runner, it was a really cool way to commemorate my first total solar eclipse.

So what’s the big deal with this Blood/Blue/Super Moon? If you recall, the first Full Moon of 2018 occurred January 1. It was also a “Super Moon,” which means the Full Moon coincided with the Moon reaching perigee in its orbit, when it’s closest to Earth. A Super Moon simply makes the Full Moon look slightly larger in the sky, and the Full Moon of January 31st will again occur when the Moon is at its closest point. It’s also the second Full Moon in a single month, which is, by definition, a Blue Moon.

And as if that’s not enough, January 31st will also feature a total lunar eclipse visible from much of North America. Lunar eclipses are sometimes called Blood Moons because our satellite takes on a reddish hue during these events. 

The medal for last year's Total Solar Eclipse Virtual 5K/10K. // Photo Credit: Astronomy: Alison Klesman

The last time these three events converged for the Americas was more than 150 years ago. Such a momentous occasion might be just the prompting needed to make good on that New Year’s resolution and give a 5- or 10-kilometer walk or run a try. 

Tags: events
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