The end of January will bring about a once-in-a-lifetime Super Blue Blood Moon. Here’s what you need to know in order to get the best view of this phenomenal astronomical event.
In just over a week on January 31st, we’ll be able to witness a Super Blue Blood Moon – an event not seen for over 150 years, with the last occurrence being in 1866. This is not a unique event in and of itself, but rather a coincidence of multiple moon events that will overall make for a fantastic viewing experience.
The Blood Moon
The “Blood Moon” part of the Super Blue Blood moon simply refers to the fact that there will be a lunar eclipse on the 31st. It’s nicknamed a blood moon due to the reddish color it takes on during this event.
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A lunar eclipse is visible from anywhere on Earth, though the totality of the event will depend on your geographic location. The eclipse refers to when the moon passes behind our planet and Earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. As the moon doesn’t have any light of its own, the only reason we see it is because of the sun’s illumination. By blocking the path of the light, we’ll be able to see a darkened moon that gives off the reddish tone – hence the name, blood moon.
Space.com reports that viewers in New York city will see the blood moon enter Earth’s shadow at 5:51 am on January 31st. This entry is into the lightest part of the shadow, with the moon getting successively darker until 6:48 am where we’ll finally see the reddish color. The sun is set to rise at 7:07 am, so make sure you head outside before then to get a look at the Super Blue Blood Moon.
The Blue Moon
The “Blue Moon” part of Super Blue Blood Moon just means that it’s the second full moon of the month. The first full moon in January took place on the New Year’s day.
The other notable part of the Super Blue Blood Moon is the fact that it will be a supermoon. Supermoons occur when a full moon happens while the planetary body is closest to earth. Due to the combination of increased visibility and the fact that it’s closer, the moon will appear up to 14 percent larger and be 30 percent brighter than normal. It’s safe to say that the Super Blue Blood Moon will be a spectacular sight, largely due to the increased size and illumination from the moon’s proximity to earth.
Noah Petro, a research scientist based at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center said that “the supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have!”
Long story short, you should make sure to step outside in the early morning on January 31st to witness an event you’ll never be able to see again – just make sure to wear your jacket!