You can witness a trifecta of lunar events, called a “super blue blood moon,” if you get up early enough on Jan. 31.
If your first response is “A what? A super blue blood moon?”— don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know about this spectacular space event.
What is a “super blue blood moon”?
Although the name sounds made up, the event is very real. Let’s break the name down by its elements: “super,” “blue,” and “blood.”
Super: A “supermoon” is when “the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit—known as perigee—and about 14 percent brighter than usual,” NASA explains. It will be the third “supermoon” in a trilogy of supermoons that began on Dec. 3, 2017.
Blue: Coinciding with this “supermoon” is the fact that this is the second full moon in January, known as a “blue moon.”
Blood: Blood moons happen during a lunar eclipse, when the moon appears rust-colored.
Tell me more about this lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse takes place about twice annually when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, or umbra. The white or yellow light from moon is actually sunlight reflected from the moon’s surface. While covered by the Earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse, the moon reflects refracted sunlight that makes the surface appear burnt red in the Earth’s sky.
Will I be able to see the “super blue blood moon”?
“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” Gordon Johnston, program executive and NASA lunar blogger, explained in a post. No telescope is needed.
“Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone,” he continued. “The eclipse begins at 5:51 a.m. ET, as the Moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”
If you are in the Eastern or Central time zone, Johnston recommends watching from a high place with a clear view to the West to catch a glimpse of the moon’s reddish hue.
“For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the ‘super blue blood moon’ can be seen during moonrise in the morning on the 31st,” according to NASA. Most of South America, Africa, and Western Europe will not be able to view this lunar eclipse. There will be another chance to witness a lunar eclipse on July 28.
What time should I look at the sky?
For people on the West Coast, the eclipse will begin at around 2:51 a.m. PT. The moon will begin to move into the umbra at around 3:48 a.m. PT, and totality—when the moon will appear red—will begin at 4:51 a.m. PT. The event will end at around 6:05 a.m. PT.
For people in Honolulu and Anchorage, the eclipse begins at 2:51 a.m. local time and reaches a peak at 3:51 a.m. local time.
For those on Eastern or Central time who won’t be able to catch the entirety of the eclipse, Johnston recommends specific times to catch parts of the Earth’s shadow casting over the moon. On the East Coast, you should take a look at 6:45 am. In the Central time zone, peak viewing time is 6:15 a.m. to 6:30 a.m local time.
You can check when the lunar eclipse begins for your city here.
What if I won’t be able to view it?
If you’re unable to get a good view, you can stream the “super blue blood moon” lunar eclipse at TimeAndDate.com.