“See yonder fire! It is the moon
Slow rising o’er the eastern hill.
It glimmers on the forest tips,
And through the dewy foliage drips
In little rivulets of light,
And makes the heart in love with night.”
—— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow*
On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, there will a full moon with three spectacular features: i) It’s the third in a series of supermoons. (First in the series was December 3, 2017, and the most recent was January 2, 2018.) A full moon is called a supermoon when it gets closer to Earth in its orbit, causing it to appear larger and brighter than usual (aka as perigee). ii) It’s the second full moon of the calendar month, commonly known as a blue moon. Referring to it as a blue moon has nothing to do with its color, rather to the rarity of two full moons occurring in a month, as in the phrase “once in a blue moon”. iii) The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow allowing moon watchers in the right location to view a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow, it’ll take on a reddish tint, known as a blood moon, as shown in the time lapse video Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse 2010, shot by William Castleman from Gainesville, Florida on December 21, 2010.
All these things happening during the full moon — a supermoon, blue moon, total lunar eclipse, gives us a chance to see something very special, a Super Blue Blood Moon, and the lunar eclipse is the star of the show. However, the view is not the same at all locations around the globe, and some moon watchers will not be able to see the entire eclipse because its start time is very near the time of moonrise or moonset.
For example, the West Coast of the US, Alaska and Hawaii are in the perfect spot to view the total lunar eclipse on January 31 from start to finish, but East Coast viewers will see only the first stage of the eclipse. The reason – the super blue moon will enter Earth’s penumbra (the lighter, outer part of Earth’s shadow) at 5:51am ET on January 31 on the East Coast of the US. The penumbra darkens the moon only slightly, and it’s often hard to see the change. The moon will touch the umbra (the darker part of Earth’s shadow) and start to darken and turn red at 6:48am ET, but the moon sets only 16 minutes later. Locations farther west in North America and across the Pacific Ocean get a better view of the total lunar eclipse because it will occur earlier and through the night.
Eastern Europe and western Asia will see the eclipse in reverse because the eclipse will have started before the moon rises in those areas, resulting in views of a dark and red moon as it rises on the night of January 31.
Of course, weather conditions in the area can also ruin your view of the Super Blue Blood Moon. If you miss the January 31 lunar eclipse, the next lunar eclipse of a supermoon visible in North America will occur in a year (January 21, 2019). You can also watch a video recording of the January 31 event (see below).
Did you miss it? The totally stunning Super Blue Blood Moon was captured by Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California (a perfect vantage point) during the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 31, 2018. You can watch this special total lunar eclipse via a video recording of the event. Just click/tap the “Watch Again” button or the posts on the video player below ↓ Part 1 post is a recording of the total lunar eclipse from start to finish. Part 2 post is a recording of the final stage of the total lunar eclipse as the moon leaves Earth’s shadow.
Take a look at another special full moon — The Harvest Moon,
and watch Full Moon Silhouettes, a real-time video by award winning photographer,
Mark Gee, of the moon rising over the Mount Victoria Lookout in Wellington, New Zealand
‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ Coming Jan 31, NASA website (includes a global map showing areas of the world that will experience the January 31 total lunar eclipse, along with time table)
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Total Lunar Eclipse photo is courtesy of Jake Hills/Unsplash CC0
*The Longfellow quote is an excerpt taken from Christus, The Golden Legend (1872), Part VI, line 462