‘Super Blue Blood Moon’ Lunar eclipse to dazzle the USA on Jan. 31

If you live in the western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands, you might set your alarm early the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 31 for a lunar trifecta: a pre-dawn “super blue blood moon.”

The Jan. 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit — known as perigee — and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

“For the (continental) U.S., the viewing will be best in the West,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Set your alarm early and go out and take a look.”

January 31 brings a lunar trifecta: the super blue blood Moon! This full moon is the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit — known as perigee — and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

If you live in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, the eclipse will be visible before sunrise on Jan. 31. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the “super blue blood moon” can be seen during moonrise in the evening of the 31st.

“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said Johnston. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5:51 AM ET, as the Moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”

Stages of the Jan. 31, 2018 “super blue blood moon” (weather permitting) are depicted in Pacific Time with “moonset” times for major cities across the U.S., which affect how much of the event viewers will see. While viewers along the East Coast will see only the initial stages of the eclipse before moonset, those in the West and Hawaii will see most or all of the lunar eclipse phases before dawn. Credits: NASA

So for viewers in New York or Washington, D.C., the Moon will enter the outer part of Earth’s shadow at 5:51 a.m., but Johnston says it won’t be all that noticeable. The darker part of Earth’s shadow will begin to blanket part of the Moon with a reddish tint at 6:48 a.m. EST, but the Moon will set less than a half-hour later. “So your best opportunity if you live in the East is to head outside about 6:45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse—make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west-northwest, opposite from where the Sun will rise,” said Johnston.

If you live in the Central time zone, viewing will be better, since the action begins when the Moon is higher in the western sky. At 4:51 a.m. CST the penumbra — or lighter part of Earth’s shadow – will touch the Moon. By about 6:15 a.m. CST the Earth’s reddish shadow will be clearly noticeable on the Moon. The eclipse will be harder to see in the lightening pre-dawn sky, and the Moon will set after 7:00 a.m. as the Sun rises. “So if you live in Kansas City or Chicago, your best viewing will be from about 6:15-6:30 a.m,” said Johnston. “Again, you’ll have more success if you can go to a high place with a clear view to the West.”

In the Rocky Mountain region, the show begins as the umbra touches the edge of the Moon at 4:48 a.m. MST. The peak of the blood moon eclipse is at about 6:30 a.m. local time, and the Moon will set shortly after 7 a.m.

Californians and viewers in western Canada will be treated to the total eclipse phase from start to finish, though the penumbral shadow will pass after the Moon has set. The umbral eclipse begins at 3:48 a.m. Pacific Time. At 4:51 a.m., totality will begin, with best viewing between about 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. local time. The totality phase ends about 6:05 a.m.

Global map showing areas of the world that will experience (weather permitting) the Jan. 31, 2018 “super blue blood moon.” The eclipse will be visible before sunrise on Jan. 31 for those in North America, Alaska and Hawaii. For those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the “super blue blood moon” can be seen during moonrise the evening of the 31st. Credits: NASA

Weather permitting, eclipse fans in Hawaii will experience the lunar eclipse from start to finish, as will skywatchers in Alaska, Australia and eastern Asia.

If you miss the Jan. 31 lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait almost another year for the next opportunity in North America. Johnston said the Jan. 21, 2019 lunar eclipse will be visible throughout all of the U.S. and will be a supermoon, though it won’t be a blue moon.

Johnston has been following and writing about the Moon since 2004, when he and about 20 colleagues at NASA Headquarters would get together after work during the full moon in “celebratory attire”—which for Johnston meant his signature bow tie. Long after the socializing fell by the wayside, Johnston’s monthly blog lives on, with a dedicated following on NASA’s lunar website, moon.nasa.gov.

Said Johnston, “I have always been fascinated by the night sky. Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the Moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night.”

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, a live feed of the Moon will be offered on NASA TV and NASA.gov/live. Weather permitting, the NASA TV broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory.

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January 29, 2018 2:25 pm

This super-moon will be made more intense and scary by climate change, right?

Reply to  BallBounces
January 29, 2018 2:42 pm

I thought it was caused by climate change.

Duncan Smith
Reply to  Old44
January 29, 2018 2:47 pm

Children just aren’t going to know what a Super Blue Blood Moon is.

January 29, 2018 2:48 pm

lts well worth seeing if you get the chance. l remember seeing a great lunar eclipse in here England back in mid 80’s if l remember right. lt was a clear night with the moon high in the sky. When the eclipse went total the moon took on a stunning copper red glow that lasted for an hour or more. A sight that l will never forget, so its worth making effort to watch it.

Reply to  taxed
January 29, 2018 2:56 pm

“the moon took on a stunning copper red glow “
Like during an Aussie bushfire !

Reply to  AndyG55
January 29, 2018 3:05 pm

Quite possible. 🙂
Two or three months ago England were treated to a red sun due to dust from the Sahara.

The Reverend Badger
January 29, 2018 3:02 pm

Very nice ! Will we be able to see Nibiru at the same time though ?

Peter S
January 29, 2018 3:21 pm

They did miss an opportunity to name it a royal moon, with it being a blue blood one.

Gunga Din
January 29, 2018 3:30 pm

For my little spot on the globe I should be up waiting to punch in at work … but the forecast is for the sky to be overcast. 8-(

Stephen Singer
January 29, 2018 5:06 pm

Unfortunately here in the Seattle/Tacoma area the likely hood of seeing this are probably less than 10% with a 70% change of rain.

Dan Davis
Reply to  Stephen Singer
January 29, 2018 5:32 pm

May give it a try to see if I can get a photo with Mt. Rainier down here south of Puyallup.
Rain, Rain, go away!

January 29, 2018 5:56 pm

Eclipses are great, but the “super” and “blue” parts of this are really quite irrelevant. A slightly closer moon is imperceptibly larger, and the second full moon in a month is an inconsequential curiosity.
Just enjoy the cosmic dance of the eclipse. It’s lovely enough without the extra, meaningless hype.

Steve Ta
Reply to  renbutler
January 30, 2018 2:23 am

I was woken last night by a strange very bright light shining into the bedroom, which turned out to just be the “imperceptibly” brighter full moon.
Not sure why you want to be such a killjoy ;(

Reply to  Steve Ta
January 30, 2018 5:34 am

Oh, come on, Steve. 😀
The moon was very bright because it was full and high in the sky on a clear winter’s night. Not because it was barely larger.
I didn’t kill any joy; quite the contrary, in fact. Go back and re-read my post: Eclipses are amazing, and to be enjoyed. No additional meaningless hype is needed to make them gorgeous!

Reply to  renbutler
January 30, 2018 8:31 am

If you really want to see it at it’s largest, it’s when it is coming over the horizon, especially if there are Mountains. It is AWESOME!!

Reply to  Ken
January 30, 2018 4:57 pm

It certainly does appear large at moonrise and moonset, although that’s just a trick of the eye.
That doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful, of course!

Thomas Ryan
January 29, 2018 5:58 pm

We have partly cloudy for a forecast in the SF Bay area. I will be up any way.

January 29, 2018 7:02 pm

Rare, yes, but not very significant. Super moons (full moon near perigee) happen a few times each year, a blue moon (second full moon in a month) every couple of years, and a blood moon (lunar eclipse with clean air) once or twice a year except after major volcanic eruptions.
A few years ago we had a blue moon in February on the 29th. Those don’t happen very frequently. Probably about every 4 x 29 years. I.e. in every leap year there’s about a 1 in 29 (or maybe 1 in 28) chance of having a full moon on the 29th.

January 29, 2018 9:21 pm

Here in Colorado Springs, we should be able to see some of the totality, but a lot will probably not be visible because of the mountains to the west of us (the Front Range).

January 30, 2018 12:51 am

It will be easily visible at dinner time here in the Siberian Arctic. Of course it’s -20 C outside.

January 30, 2018 7:29 am

If it’s a blue blood moon, does that make it royalty?

Power Grab
January 31, 2018 7:42 am

I went out 3 times and saw it turning into a tiny sliver. However, once it went to totality, it disappeared completely. Too many street lights, I guess.

R.S. Brown
January 31, 2018 1:50 pm

From Spaceweather.com: Blue Red Full Moon Fever:

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