For those who missed the full moon treat on January 1, a rare celestial treat awaits you on January 31, marking the last in a trilogy of supermoons. The first happened on December 3, 2017, NASA said in a report. A supermoon is a full moon at its closest point to the Earth on its orbit – known as perigee.
The January 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of ‘supermoons’, and about 14 per cent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a ‘blue moon’, which happens every two and a half years, on average. The super blue moon will pass through earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse.
While the moon is in the earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a ‘blood moon’, Gordon Johnston, programme executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington, NASA said in a statement. It will feature a total lunar eclipse, with totality viewable from western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia. For those living in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, the eclipse will be visible before sunrise on January 31.
However, for those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the ‘super blue blood moon’ can be seen during moonrise in the morning on the 31st. If you miss the January 31 lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait almost another year for the next opportunity in North America. So, “set your alarm early and go out and take a look”, Johnston said.
“I have always been fascinated by the night sky. Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night,” he stated. December’s full moon, traditionally known as the ‘cold moon’, marked the first and only supermoon of 2017. It appeared about seven per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter.