Don't Miss This Celestial Triplet: a Blue Moon, Supermoon and Lunar Eclipse


This rare event on January 31 - a blue supermoon - gets rarer still, because there will also be a lunar eclipse.

For the first time since 1866, there will be a super blue blood moon.

The excitement will be double this time as the supermoon, blue moon and blood moon will merge together after a period of 150 years. So that closeness makes the moon seem about 14 percent bigger and, if it's a clear night, brighter as well.

In a statement jointly issued with QCH director Dr Mohamed al-Ansari, noted astronomer Dr Beshir Marzouk said two Blue Moons will occur during this year, with the second one slated for the last day of March.

As a result, totally eclipsed moons are sometimes also called "blood moons".

A super moon is when the moon gets the closest to earth. When the eclipse of January 31 is nearly over, the moon would have just crossed the perigee position a day earlier with a distance of 358,993 kilometers from the Earth, making this eclipse as "Supermoon Eclipse".

While being "super" may be in the eyes of the beholder, a blue moon is much more straightforward.

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To see the whole eclipse you can tune in online beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on January 31, for a live feed of the moon on NASA TV and NASA live. That is because there will be a full moon.

Moonset occurs at 7:04 a.m., leaving only about 16 minutes of eclipse visible, assuming you can see all the way down to the horizon. According NASA, areas spanning from California to Western Canada will experience the total eclipse and the best time to view it is between 5 and 6 a.m. But don't worry if you miss it-lunar eclipses happen on average a couple times a year. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in between the Earth and the sun, blocking all or part of the sun in the process. This is why the moon is called "red moon".

The Blue Moon will start to enter the outer part of Earth's shadow at 5:51 a.m. It won't be as impressive of a view as it would be if it happened at night but you could see a little bit of a reddish hue to the partially cut full moon as it sets in the western sky. The moon will exit the umbra by 8.40 pm and the eclipse will end by 9.40 pm. The shadow gives the moon a red or orange appearance.

Can I see the supermoon and lunar eclipse without going outside?

Since the moon will be low in the sky from many locations with dawn providing just the right illumination of the scene, this eclipse may well be a photographer's dream.

In the Rocky Mountain region, the best viewing time will be around 4:48 a.m. with the peak coming around 6:30 a.m. local time before the 7 a.m. moon setting.

"In this case we have the moon visible in our sky and the sun is behind us", Berrier said.