On January 31st we will have the privilege of seeing a wonderful celestial event – a Blue Moon, Super Moon, and a lunar eclipse (Blood Moon) will all happen at the same time! Why is this so special, you ask? Well we earthlings haven’t seen something this wondrous in 150 years!
What do these terms mean? Well, a Blue Moon isn’t actually blue, it is a term used to describe the second full moon within a month. There was a full moon earlier in January so this will be the second one.
A Super Moon is the phenomenon in which the moon is larger and brighter in the sky, it happens because the moon is at its closest point to Earth. At this point, the moon appears to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal.
A lunar eclipse is when the moon moves behind the earth into its umbra and is bathed in the Earth’s shadow – this phenomenon can only happen when the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon are completely aligned and gives the Moon a reddish tint. (see the image below).
When can I see this Super Blue Blood Moon?
The eclipse will be best viewed from the Western part of North America, however on the East coast we will be able to see a partial eclipse.
At 5:51 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, space observers in New York City will see the Moon enter Earth’s penumbra (the lighter, outer part of its shadow), according to Space.com. The penumbra slightly darkens the Moon, though only a little. It will touch the umbra, the darker part of the shadow which gives the eclipse look at 6:48 a.m. local time. However, the moon sets just 16 minutes later.
Oh and by the way…in case you haven’t guessed…the phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” actually refers to a blue moon, or the second full moon in a month. Blue moons happen about every 2-3 years so when you say, “Once in a blue moon,” it means that it rarely happens.