When the new year hits, for most of us, January tends to be a rather dull, skint and uneventful month – unless you look up at the moon.
Have you considered the one phenomenon occurring, which will turn your drab and boring start to 2018 upside down?
I’m talking about one of the moon’s most unique nights during the dark month of January.
The rare celestial event will grace the skies during the coming week when a blue moon and lunar eclipse combine with the moon being at its closest point to Earth, resulting in what’s being called a ‘super blue blood moon’.
Come January 31, the trifecta will be best visible from the western hemisphere.
Astonishingly, the last time the three elements combined at the same time was in 1866 – and if you miss out, chances are you won’t see it again for 150 years!
A ‘super blue blood moon’ is the result of a blue moon – the second full moon in a calendar month – occurring at the same time as a super moon, when the moon is at perigee – the nearest point of orbit to the Earth – and about 14 per cent brighter than usual.
Therefore, a so-called blood moon is the moment during a lunar eclipse when the moon, in the Earth’s shadow, takes on a reddish tint.
According to NASA:
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, January 31 for a lunar trifecta: a pre-dawn ‘super blue blood moon.’
For the (continental) US, the viewing will be best in the West.
Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.
Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA headquarters in Washington states:
Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish.
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.
If you do miss the January 31 lunar eclipse, you’ll only have to wait almost another year for the next opportunity – if you’re in North America.
Johnston said the lunar eclipse scheduled for January 21, 2019, will be visible throughout all of the US and will be a supermoon, though it won’t be a blue moon.
Unfortunately, for those of you in Africa, along with the UK, you won’t see the eclipse but still, you’ll get the opportunity to view it through numerous live streams.
Good luck viewing if you’re venturing outside!