Super Blue Blood Moon

If you live in the western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands, you might set your alarm early the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 31 for a lunar trifecta: a pre-dawn “super blue blood moon.” “For the (continental) U.S., the viewing will be best in the West,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.”

Supermoon:

A supermoon glows brighter than the average moon. The moon doesn’t orbit the Earth in a perfect circle, which means it sometimes sits closer to our planet than usual. When the moon’s closest approach—or “perigee”—coincides with a full moon, it can look bigger and brighter. This is known as a “supermoon,” but the technical term is “perigee full moon.” January 31 is the last chance you will have to see a supermoon this year. To witness the supersize space rock in all its glory, look to the skies just after sunset. The lower the moon sits in the sky, the larger it appears because of something called the “moon illusion.”

Blue moon:

“Blue moon” has come to mean the second full moon in a calendar month. Sadly it doesn’t actually shine blue, but it is an interesting quirk. January has already had one full moon so far this month. Not as rare as you might think, the last blue moon occurred in July 2015. Spoilt for blue moons this year, we will also see one on 31 March.

Lunar eclipse:

The Jan. 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit — known as perigee — and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

If you live in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, the eclipse will be visible before sunrise on Jan. 31. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the “super blue blood moon” can be seen during moonrise in the evening of the 31st. However, if you live in West/Central/East Europe it will be half visible from 10:00 am to 13:00 pm (depending on where you live) on Jan. 31st.

 

If you are not in the main area of the event, beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, a live feed of the Moon will be offered on NASA TV and NASA.gov/live. You can also follow it at @NASAMoon.