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'Super Blue Blood Moon' coming January 31 in rare space event

23 January 2018, 02:12 | Ruben Fields

Bob King

Bob King

It's the first time since 1866 that a blue moon total lunar eclipse has occurred.

Skywatchers will want to mark January 31 on their calendars-the day will feature what EarthSky.org is calling a "super Blue Moon eclipse".

A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes completely into Earth's shadow.

While the Moon is in the shadow, it looks reddish and is called a "blood moon".

"The Super Moon is a full moon at the moon's closest orbital approach, about 30,000 km closer than it normally is", he said.

It's the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a "blue moon". To give you an idea of how rare this event is, the last time a blue moon contained a lunar eclipse occurred a year after the civil war ended. In other words, a supermoon, a blue moon, and a lunar eclipse will be happening simultaneously.

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Residents living in the Central Time Zone will have the best viewing since the action begins when the Moon is higher in the western sky on January 31, according to NASA officials.

For viewers on the East coast, your best opportunity is to head outside about 6:45 a.m. and make sure to get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse.

"The lunar eclipse on January 31 will be visible during moonset", said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Because of this, the color of the moon becomes a shade of red, prompting many to dub it as "blood moon". Totality lasts a generous 77 minutes, from 4:51 a.m. PT to 6:08 a.m. PT.

The eclipse will last nearly 4 hours from the beginning of the partial phase at 5:48 a.m. until it ends at 9:12 a.m., according to Sky and Telescope. "Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone".

The Moon will enter the outer part of Earth's shadow at 5:51 a.m. EST, but it reportedly won't be all that noticeable.



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