Supermoon, blue moon and eclipse on January 31

posted by JP - 

UPDATE: NASA plans to provide a live stream of the moon from telescopes in California and Arizona, beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST.

SUPERMOON: What is it?

A supermoon, or a perigean full moon, is one that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth during the course of its orbit. This may cause the moon to appear slightly bigger than an average full moon.

SUPERMOON: When to look and what to look for

Perigee, the moment or time period at which the moon will be at its closest to Earth, begins at at 4:54 a.m. ET on January 30. The moon then becomes completely full at 8:27 a.m. on January 31. That will make it difficult to notice the full effect of the Supermoon, but expect to see it appear slightly larger than usual if skies are clear early Tuesday morning and Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

BLUE MOON: What is it?

Quite simply, a so-called "blue moon" is what we call the second full moon in a single month. The relative rarity of this occurrence gives birth to the phrase "once in a blue moon."

BLUE MOON: When to look and what to look for

Unlike the visual changes sometimes apparent during a Supermoon, a blue moon does not actually turn the moon blue or cause any other noticeable changes. Blue moon occurs the moment the moon hits peak fullness, which will be at 8:27 a.m. ET. It will therefore be impossible to view it completely full on the East Coast, as it will have set at that point. Look for a nearly full moon in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: What is it?

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes completely into the shadow cast by the earth, or, put another way, when the earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: When to look and what to look for

The moon will begin to enter Earth's penumbra at 5:51 a.m. ET on Wednesday. This part of Earth's shadow is more difficult to notice, however, beginning about 6:48 a.m. ET, the moon will begin passing into the Earth's umbra. This darker shadow is known for giving eclipsed moons their distinctive reddish hue.

Unfortunately, East Coast viewers will only get a short, 16 minute window before the moon sets, and will not get to see the eclipse at totality.

JP

JP

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