Come January 31, 2018, Asia will witness the first total lunar eclipse of its kind in 152 years. Just what makes it so remarkable?
Not only will the coming lunar eclipse be a blood moon, it will also be a blue moon and a supermoon. With three types of moons happening all at once, it is no wonder that so much excitement is building around it. So just what exactly are super, blue and blood moons?
Blood Moon Rising
A blood moon or total lunar eclipse happens when the entire moon passes through the Earth’s umbra – the darkest part of its shadow. This makes the full moon look red at the height of the eclipse, which is why it is also called a “blood moon”. The red hue has nothing to do with its namesake. It’s the reddish dust in the Earth’s atmosphere that makes it seem so.
Twice in a Blue Moon
Contrary to popular belief, full moons don’t just come along once a month. Every two to three years, we get a second full moon known as a “blue moon”. Don’t let its name fool you though, the moon isn’t actually going to turn blue.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Supermoon!
The upcoming eclipse will also be a “supermoon.” A fitting name, since this happens when the moon is closest to the Earth’s orbit, making it appear up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter to the naked eye.
The Super Blue Blood Moon
Together, these three moons make the January 31 eclipse a “super blue total lunar eclipse.” The last time this happened was 152 years ago, on March 31, 1866. The best part is it’s totally viewable from most of Asia. The partial eclipse will be visible starting 7:48pm (GMT +8). The actual super blue blood moon will start at 8:51pm, reach its peak at 9:29pm, and end at 10:07pm, with another partial eclipse viewable until 11:11pm.
So grab a picnic blanket, a pair of binoculars, and a group of friends and watch history unfold at the end of the month. And if you happen to fall in love with someone while doing this (the love month starts the next day after all), you can blame it on a total eclipse of the heart.