Rare 'super blood blue moon' visible on January 31

28 January, 2018, 18:50 | Author: Darnell Taylor

You get 15 minutes of that, and so long, moon, as it sets in the western sky at the aforementioned 7:03 a.m.in Springfield, well before the lunar eclipse begins totality.

To prepare you for the lunar triple whammy, here's your all-you-need-to-know guide.

Members of the public who wish to observe the Super Blue Blood Moon can gather at the National Planetarium for the observation programme.

A Supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at perigee or its closest point to Earth in its orbit.

The last one occurred on November 14 2016, when the moon appeared upto 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal.

January 31 is a date South Africans will surely want to remember - sadly, they won't be outdoors comfortably seated in a camping chair with binoculars and telephoto cameras and tripods. It'll be a blue moon, at least in name, because it will be the second full moon within a calendar month.

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Then completing this "lunar trifecta" is the "blood" element. The moon will lose its notable brightness and turn a reddish hue; hence the "blood" monicker with totally eclipsed moons.

Where can I see it?

Every now and then, the cosmos align just right to give us a few supermoons in a row, with our last supermoon earlier in the month and the one before it in December. The total eclipse begins at 8.51pm where the public will see the moon completely red with the maximum eclipse phase is at 9.29 pm.

For those living in the US, NASA says the best spots to watch the entire celestial show will be in California and western Canada. "Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the eastern time zone". "Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west, opposite from where the sun will rise".

This is now the hip slang term for any total lunar eclipse, mainly because during totality the moon becomes bloody red in color when it crosses into the Earth's shadow.

Lunar eclipses during a supermoon happen rather regularly.

And fear not luna-tic's, Virtual Telescope will be streaming the event live for those of you unable to view it up close. Our next total lunar eclipse will take place on July 27th, but it will only be visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. It'll be a long wait for skywatchers in the United States as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019.

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