Total lunar eclipse on January 31

Alicia Guzman
January 5, 2018

Just weeks after 2018's first supermoon of January 1 and 2, this astronomical rarity of events is being called a super blue blood moon eclipse.

Robotic lunar exploration is about to heat up, too.

Last year Vancouver witnessed the largest supermoon in 70 years, and there were a number of incredible astral displays this past year. It has also been dubbed as the "wolf moon". Moon Express has said it wants to start launching in 2018, with Astrobotic and other companies not far behind.

New Year's Day moon as viewed from sandymount looking towards Howth
New Year's Day moon as viewed from sandymount looking towards Howth

As long as there is not too much cloud, the moon should be clearly viewable in the sky. Here's a handy animation from NASA's visualization team showing the changing face of the moon-with all its wobbles and lighting phases-throughout the coming year. Firstly, the moon will be full for the second time in this month.

The moon is going to be a spectacular sight on January 31.

The last time all that happened together was nearly 152 years ago. Such a skywatching event hasn't happened for more than 150 years.

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A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon enters the darkest part of the earth's shadow, called the umbra.

They are also known "blood moons" on account of the red hue on the surface of the moon, are the reflected sunrises and sunsets on earth. Aside from that, a total lunar eclipse will also occur that night. What makes the super moon also a blue moon is the ideal, dual timing of the second full moon of the month (a blue moon) - a rare occurrence in itself - and the moment when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, making it appear bigger and brighter than usual.

The first eclipse will occur on January 31 and will be particularly visible from eastern Europe and eastern Africa to South America.

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To top it off, stargazers in some parts of the US will be treated to lunar eclipse on the same, final night of January. There was a partial eclipse of a Blue Moon on December 31, 2009, but the last total eclipse of a Blue Moon is dated March 31, 1866.

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