Another Amazing celestial event


In the early morning hours of Jan. 31, 2018, there will be a rare opportunity for skywatchers to see the second full moon of January — a Blue Moon — become totally eclipsed.

According to NASA, the event is a "Super Blue Blood Moon," as it will happen near when the moon is at its closest point to Earth, a so-called "supermoon." A blood moon is more accurately known as a total lunar eclipse. When the moon is closer to the Earth in its orbit, it appears about 15 percent brighter.

Visible in the western United States early on Jan. 31, the moon will turn an orangey-red hue as it passes through the Earth's deep shadow. This will be the first time in over 150 years (the last one was recorded in March 1866) that a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a Blue Moon in North America.  

For us Floridians though, this skywatching event isn’t going to be much of an event at all. The best views of the middle-of-the-night eclipse will be in central and eastern Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia although skywatchers in the West will enjoy really good visibility of a big, copper-colored moon close to the horizon. According to NASA, it’s Honolulu, Hawaii that will get the very best experience of the eclipse before sunrise on Jan. 31, 2018. From Northern California, the northwest corner of Nevada, all of Oregon and Washington, the Idaho panhandle, as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and most of Alberta, the moon will set after it completely exits the Earth's dark - umbral shadow (6:08 a.m. PST, 7:08 a.m. MST). For the rest of North America, the eclipse will still be in progress when the moon sets. 

NASA also states that unlike an eclipse of the sun, which often requires viewers to make a long journey to the path of totality, eclipses of the moon can be observed from one's own backyard. This is because the moon’s passage through the Earth's shadow is equally visible from all places within the hemisphere where the moon is above the local horizon. The eclipse happens simultaneously for every viewer, and the end will happen simultaneously for everyone, too.

There's are few celestial events more beautiful than a total solar eclipse or lunar eclipse but a "blood moon" follows closely behind.

A lunar eclipse is pleasing to watch, but binoculars or a small telescope will certainly improve the view. Use the lowest-power eyepiece.

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