Did you hear? Something cool is happening on January 31st!
A rare total lunar eclipse will happen on January 31, 2018, for the first time in 150 years! It will actually be the second full moon of January, but the first eclipse of the new year–called a Blue Moon. Additionally, it will be a Supermoon (when the moon is closest to the earth). These things together make this a RARE event!
What is a Total Lunar Eclipse?
With a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow blocks all or part the sun’s light. There are three types of lunar eclipses: total, partial, and penumbral.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, moon, and earth are all lined up. With a total lunar eclipse, the moon moves behind the earth and blocks the sun’s light from reflecting onto the moon and the earth.
According to Space.com:
“Here’s how it works: Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. The initial and final stages — when the moon is in the penumbral shadow — are not so noticeable, so the best part of an eclipse is during the middle of the event, when the moon is in the umbral shadow.”
The earth casts a shadow onto the moon with a red color. That’s why a total lunar eclipse moon is also called the “Blood Moon.” Space.com explains this:
“The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. While other colors in the spectrum are blocked and scattered by Earth’s atmosphere, red light tends to make it through easier. The effect is to cast all the planet’s sunrises and sunsets on the moon.”
What’s really interesting about this Blood Moon total lunar eclipse is that it is also a Blue Moon (which isn’t actually blue, by the way). A Blue Moon is the second full moon of a calendar month. It is also a Supermoon, or a “full moon that’s closer to Earth than usual and can appear slightly brighter and larger than normal.”
So, it’s a Blood Blue Supermoon Lunar Eclipse (?). (I think it’s really called a Super Blue Blood Moon.)
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Who Can See the Total Lunar Eclipse?
The total lunar eclipse in January 2018 will be visible from Asia, Australia, Pacific Ocean, and western North America. You can see a total lunar eclipse path map here.
Watching the Total Lunar Eclipse
For the total lunar eclipse, you don’t need any special gear or glasses (like you needed for the total solar eclipse). You can view the lunar eclipse directly and safely just by looking up in the sky.
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