On January 31st, 2018, sky-watchers, moon aficionados and enthusiasts will be in for a rare spectacle that has been given the name of “Super Blue Blood Moon”. This wordy phenomenon happens to be a lunar eclipse with outstanding timing, as it clashes with two other fairly unusual moon-events.
The Super Blue Blood Moon hasn’t been seen since 1866, meaning it’s been over 150 years since this lunar-event has occurred, making this sight all the more interesting.
On Jan. 31, 3 lunar events will come together in an unusual overlap that’s being called a super blue blood moon. See how this celestial rarity will help @NASAMoon scientists observe what happens when the lunar surface cools quickly during a lunar eclipse: https://t.co/5keRakwhUk pic.twitter.com/x9jhb5foVY
— NASA (@NASA) January 28, 2018
What is a Super Blue Blood Moon?
To make sense of the name, it’s important to break it down to each individual event on its own so as to understand the display as a whole.
A Super Moon occurs when the moon is closer to Earth than what it usually is, making it seem bigger. The other phenomenon at hand, the Blue Moon, contrary to what the name suggests, it has nothing to do with the color. It’s the second full moon in a calendar’s month, which doesn’t happen often as full moons usually occur every four weeks or so. However, seeing as January started off with a full moon, it seems appropriate that it also ends with one too.
The Blood Moon, on the other hand, actually does refer to its color. It is used to describe a total lunar eclipse in which the moon turns into a more reddish color. This happens due to the Earth passing directly in between the Sun and the moon, causing the moon to become overshadowed, but not go fully dark since the Sun’s beam still manages to shine a scarlet light onto the Moon.
Hence, the birth of the extensive name of Super Blue Blood Moon occurs.
There's a lunar eclipse on Wednesday, Jan. 31. This video explains what that is and why the Moon will appear red: https://t.co/3shWcNZGbR
— NASA Moon (@NASAMoon) January 26, 2018
How, when and where you can watch the Super Blue Blood Moon
The Super Blue Blood Moon will be happening on January 31st with the best view-spot being on the West Coast of the United States. “Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” stated NASA’s Gordon Johnson. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5:51 AM ET, as the Moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”
NASA will be offering a live-viewing of the moon for people who live in a region that the Super Blue Blood Moon won’t be seen in its entirety which you can also watch on Space.com.
That being said, if you miss the Super Blue Blood Moon, and its live stream too, the next lunar eclipse like this is set to be on January 21st, 2019, according to NASA. With the one difference being that it won’t be a Super Blue Blood Moon, it will just be a Super Blood Moon, as it won’t be the second full moon of the month’s calendar.