First blue moon total eclipse in 150 years coming January 31

This isn't the actual super moon awaited by the skygazers.

What is a blue moon?

In a Blue Moon, the moon doesn't actually appear blue; instead, the name indicates that it is the second full moon in a particular month.

The full moon illuminates the historic architecture of Piazza del Popolo in Rome on January 1. So, during totality, the moon's lower limb will appear much brighter than the dark upper limb. While the saying "once in a blue moon" suggests rarity, these events are more common than you might think.

The last time all that happened together was nearly 152 years ago.

The lunar eclipse, wherein the Earth's shadow will cover the moon, will be seen from 6:49 p.m. on January 31 until 12:09 a.m. on February 1. It has also been dubbed as the "wolf moon". By that criteria, we should get a cycle of several supermoons about every 14 full moons.

Credit PA
Credit PA

The moon is called supermoon when it is visible full and is at at near its closest point in its orbit around Earth.

During its orbit, it varies slightly closer (perigee) and farther (apogee) from Earth each month. But just seeing the full moon in the sky isn't enough for most of us to notice that it's different. The eclipse will last for 3.5 hours, with the total eclipse stretching for 77 minutes, reports Sky & Telescope.

The total eclipse will begin at 8.51pm and end at 10.08pm, while the partial eclipse will end at 11.11pm.

The first eclipse will occur on January 31 and will be particularly visible from eastern Europe and eastern Africa to South America. As sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere it creates a glowing reddish hue on the surface of the moon.

"The moon will turn red or coppery during the total eclipse". Alaska and Hawaii will also catch a glimpse of this eclipse. For the rest of the mainland USA, the eclipse will be partial.

The start of the year 2018 began with a rare version of super moon that was witnessed by people all over the world. "Folks in the eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it", said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on the agency's website.

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  • Regina Walsh