Quick Take: When in a Super Blue Blood Moon

On Jan. 31, sky-watchers will get an uncommon triple reward: a supermoon, a blue moon, and an overall lunar eclipse. Though not unusual independently, this is the very first time all three will take place at the very same time because 1866, according to NASA.

UNLV astrophysicist Jason Steffen has the skinny on exactly what we’ll be able to see here in Las Vegas.

What is a lunar eclipse?

Lunar eclipses are when the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow. This scenario happens on a regular basis– a couple times per year. Nevertheless, not all lunar eclipses are total and so not all them undergo the change in color that we will see this time.

Throughout an overall lunar eclipse, instead of going entirely dark, the moon will turn a red color. That’s where the expression “blood moon” comes from. This color modification happens because the Earth’s atmosphere acts like a prism and divides the sunshine into its constituent colors– the amount that the environment bends the red light causes it to light up the moon. So, in essence, the moon is lit by the red sundown of the whole planet.

Exactly what is a supermoon?

The supermoon is when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit. Since the moon’s orbit is somewhat elongated, its distance from the Earth modifications by about 10 percent. The moon orbits about once each month, so the supermoon might happen each month. Normally, nevertheless, people just call it a supermoon if the moon is complete. A moon at perigee– closest to the earth– takes place about once per year.

The supermoon is, maybe, a little overhyped. It only corresponds to about a 10 percent difference in size. Picture getting a big pizza that is 12 inches in size and a superpizza that is 13 inches. You can decide for yourself how remarkable that is.

What is a blue moon?

A blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. The moon orbits the Earth in about 4 weeks; so in any month besides February, there is a possibility to see 2 moons. January’s very first full moon happened on Jan. 1.

The initial meaning was the third moon in a season that had 4 moons (as opposed to the three moons you ‘d usually anticipate throughout a season).

They occur take place every number of years, which generated the expression “when in a blue moon,” suggesting not very often. Throughout a blue moon, the moon is seldom blue– it’s normally simply its regular color. It only appears blue when the atmosphere is filled with dust or smoke particles of a particular size.

Why is this such a big offer?

Since anybody can head out and see it on their own.

Consider it by doing this: You have 2 massive balls of rock that are going by each other in a lot more gigantic void of virtual emptiness. Then, light that has actually traveled 93 million miles from the sun is refracted through a thin layer of air (if the Earth were a basketball, the atmosphere would just be the density of a couple of sheets of paper). The light is bent ever-so-slightly so that the traffic signal converges on a point 200,000 miles away. About 10 percent of that light is reflected by the moon, which then does a return journey 200,000 miles back to the Earth where it hits a tiny hole about 1/4 inch in diameter and is focused onto your retina. Exactly what’s not to be fascinated by?

What time of day will we be able to see this?

The eclipse will occur prior to daybreak. Totality will be during the 5 a.m. hour. The entire thing will last a couple hours, from when the shadow of the Earth initially strikes the moon until it finally leaves. [See t imeanddate.com animation for Las Vegas]
Who will be able to see this?

About half of the world will be able to see it (practically everyone on the night-time side). If you are living in Antarctica right now, you run out luck. However otherwise, anybody in the western hemisphere must have the ability to see it.

Will you be enjoying?.

Yes, I’ll see it for a bit, from my front lawn. I don’t plan to enjoy the whole thing though.

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