Skywatchers are in for another once-in-a-lifetime celestial event this month. On Jan. 31, the super Blue Moon will rise, coinciding with a total lunar eclipse.
Some call this spectacular occurrence as the “Blue Blood Moon” which is actually a combination of three lunar phenomena — a supermoon, a blue moon, and a blood moon.
Three-in-one celestial event
A full moon that occurs twice in one calendar month is considered as an extraordinary occurrence, hence the Blue Moon. According to NASA, blue moons happen every two and a half years on the average. Throw in a total lunar eclipse and that’s a grand party in the night sky with the moon as the superstar.
But the super Blue Blood Moon, a rare event, was last seen in the sky in March 1866.
This Blue Moon is also a supermoon, the last in a trilogy following the Dec. 27, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018 supermoon occurrences wherein the moon appeared 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal when looked at through the naked eye. Supermoon, as we know it, is used to describe the phenomenon wherein the moon is at its closest point when orbiting around the Earth.
This supermoon is also a Blood Moon, which describes the view of the moon’s reddish color during a total lunar eclipse when light from the Sun is reflected onto it.
NASA says during a total lunar eclipse, “the moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through the Earth’s atmosphere. Often cast in a reddish hue because of the way the atmosphere bends the light.”
When and how to view it?
Space.com provided a timetable of the moon’s passage through the Earth for six time zones. Check the schedule to know the best time for you to watch it.
This great lunar show can be seen in the Western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and the British Columbia. The best time to view it is during the morning hours before the sunrise of January 31.
In the U.S. West coast, the total phase of the eclipse will start at 4:51 a.m. PST.
Australia and the Pacific including Indonesia, New Zealand and countries in Central and East Asia will see a great portion if not the entire lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible in these countries during the evening hours after sunset.
For those who can see it, the total duration of the total eclipse phase is 77 minutes, with the moon tracking the lower part of the Earth’s shadow.