A supermoon, blue Moon, and blood Moon – oh my! Mark your calendars for January 31st!
Scientists say for the first time in more than 150 years, sky watchers will be delighted to see a trilogy of celestial events from the evening hours of January 31st to the early morning hours of February 1st – a supermoon, a blue Moon, and a lunar eclipse (which creates the appearance of a blood Moon.)
A supermoon is when the Moon reaches its nearest point toward earth, making it appear 30 percent brighter and about 14 percent larger.
A blue Moon has nothing to do with the color of the Moon. In fact, the Moon will actually appear red in the early morning of February 1st due to the lunar eclipse!
A blue Moon is simply the second full Moon of any given month, with the first full Moon having already occurred January 1st.
When the Moon appears red or is eclipsed, it is also referred to as a “blood Moon,” so we will essentially see a super-blue-blood Moon at the end of the month – a phenomenon that hasn’t happened since 1866!
The Moon will take on the red hue due to bending light around the earth, as the Moon is hidden in the earth’s shadow during the lunar eclipse.
“We’re seeing all of the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets at that moment reflected from the surface of the Moon,” says NASA Scientist Sarah Noble.
The best time to see the supermoon is during the rising or setting of the Moon, as it will appear larger on the horizon than it will high up in the sky.
As for the lunar eclipse, the best viewing hours will be during the setting of the Moon during the early hours of February 1st, with the full eclipse happening at 6:51 a.m. CST.
Ever heard the saying “Once in a blue Moon?”
Blue Moons typically happen every two and a half years, so this phenomenon, involving all three events in one night, is much more rare!
If you miss this celestial spectacle, scientists say your next shot to witness a super-blue-blood Moon will be December 31st, 2028.
Click here for tips on the best ways to photograph the supermoon from a NASA photographer.
And if you capture a great picture, we would love to see it!