Celestial spectacle tonight: 5 things to know about super blood blue moon
The supermoon occurrence will cause the moon to be 10 to 13 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter.
A cosmic event not seen in 36 years – a rare “super blood blue moon” – may be glimpsed on January 31 in parts of western North America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Australia.
This event is causing a buzz because it combines three unusual lunar events – an extra big super moon, a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse.
1. A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a month. Typically, a blue moon happens every two years and eight months. Lunar eclipses during a supermoon happen rather regularly. The last one was in September 2015. Lunar eclipses occur at least twice a year. Supermoons can happen four to six times a year.
2. A similar event took place 55 years ago. This is the first time, in a long time, that an eclipse will occur simultaneously as a supermoon, causing the eclipse to appear closer and bigger. According to the Dubai Astronomy Group, the supermoon occurrence will cause the moon to be 10 to 13 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter.
3. Unlike a solar eclipse, this lunar eclipse can be safely viewed without protective eyewear.
4. The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal ‘blue moon’ (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions, for example, if volcanic eruptions or fires leave particles in the atmosphere of just the right size to preferentially scatter red light.
5. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the earth into its umbra. The alignment of the sun, moon and Earth will last one hour and 16 minutes, visible before dawn across the western United States and Canada. Those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand should look for it in the evening, as the moon rises.