Keep your eyes on the skies this week: a lunar trifecta that hasn’t occurred since 1866 will put on a pre-dawn show.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a blue moon and a supermoon, known as a “super blue blood moon.”
Here’s everything you need to know about this phenomenon and how to watch it unfold.
What exactly is a ‘super blue blood moon?’
This rare celestial event is made up of three coinciding occurrences. A supermoon is when the moon is closer to Earth in its orbit, therefore appearing bigger and brighter – NASA predicts Wednesday’s moon will appear 14% brighter than usual. A blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month, and the first took place on Jan. 1. Finally, a lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon passes into Earth’s shadow – and the “blood” part of the name comes from the faint red sunbeams that peek out around the edges of the Earth, giving the moon a reddish color.
How rare is this?
While none of these three lunar events are uncommon, they haven’t all coincided in 152 years, according to The Guardian.
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When and where is it happening?
NASA says Jan. 31’s super blue blood moon will begin at 5:51 a.m. ET, so set your alarms.
“Your best opportunity if you live in the East is to head outside about 6:45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse—make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west-northwest, opposite from where the Sun will rise,” Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters, advises.
What do you get when you have a supermoon, which also happens to be the 2nd full Moon of the month, passing through Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse? A Super Blue Blood Moon! Catch this lunar trifecta coming our way on Jan. 31: https://t.co/iPfq9g9iRk pic.twitter.com/CvGfpTsA0C
— NASA (@NASA) January 29, 2018
Those in the Central time zone will have an even better view, with the best time to be on the lookout between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. CT. The show will start at 4:48 a.m. for those is the Mountain time zone, with the peak at 6:30 a.m., while those on the West coast can start watching at 3:48 a.m. PT. The best viewing will be between about 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. local time, and the totality phase ends about 6:05 a.m.
Stargazers living in Alaska or Hawaii will be able to see the entire eclipse before sunrise. Those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand will see the “super blue blood moon” during moonrise on the evening of Jan. 31.
Where can I watch online?
If you don’t feel like rolling out of bed, NASA will be livestreaming the event at NASA.gov/Live starting at 5:30 a.m. ET.
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