The moon is a fascinating thing to watch. Being the only natural satellite from planet Earth, and entirely visible to the naked eye, it’s no wonder we get all excited whenever it does something unique. Especially considering how long astronomical events tend to take before they cycle around themselves.
However, this January 31st something crazy is going to happen:
We all know the astronomical event called the “super moon” — it’s what we call it when the full moon is at its closest orbit to the Earth, giving us a much closer look at the full bright side of the moon.
We also know the “blue moon” — the second full moon in one month, which is a somewhat rare occurrence.
And finally, there’s the lunar eclipse — when the Moon passes perfectly behind Earth’s shadow caused by the Sun. All three bodies must be aligned for this to be possible.
This January 31st, we’re having a super moon, that’s also a blue moon, during a total lunar eclipse. Some people are calling this a Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse.
Hang on until we figure out something a bit more catchy.
What’s going on?
During this event, the moon will have a red tint look. This is due to how light bounces off of our atmosphere. The best way to describe it is what Sarah Noble, from NASA, said: "We're seeing all of the Earth's sunrises and sunsets at that moment reflected from the surface of the Moon.”
This video, posted on Science Beta by NASA, shows off some more cool information (keep on reading to know more):
The best view
The best views of this incredible set of cosmical events will be from Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean and western North America. Unfortunately, for the most part of the U.S., the event won’t be visible, or will only be partial.Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA, said in a release that: “The lunar eclipse on January 31 will be visible during moonset. Folks in the Eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it.”
What does it all mean?
The event itself is, as are most of these cosmical shenanigans that happen once in a (long) while, entirely meaningless.
Astronomers are never surprised when they happen, since our solar system’s orbits are well studied and easily predicted years in advance. The great Neil DeGrasse Tyson said in an interview for the Stephen Colbert show (about 2016’s Strawberry Moon):
“Most people want something in the sky to be special and unique to their lifetime on Earth. An Earth that has been here for 4.5 billion years. (…) They’ll say ‘this configuration of the moon and planet will not repeat for 60,000 years. And you say ‘Wow, that’s cool.’ But they don’t tell you tomorrow’s configuration also won’t repeat for 60,000 years. (…) So, something can be rare, and uninteresting. Because of how common it’s rarity is.”
But we all agree it still brings people’s attention to science and astronomy, so it’s always fun when it happens.
Sarah Noble, from NASA headquarters, said that “anything that keeps people interested in science and makes them realize science is important is a good thing.”
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