It’s an exciting 2018 for skywatchers. After “feasting” on the supermoon on New Year’s Day, enthusiasts will be treated to not just another supermoon but also a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse ( also known as blood moon) all in one night at the end of the month.
Such rare phenomenon is called the “Super Blue Blood Moon” will serve as icing on the cake after several months of impressive moons.
The good news does not stop there. There’s also something to look forward to in March. The third month of the year will showcase another blue moon at the end of the month.
A supermoon is that occasion when a full moon coincides with the closest the moon gets to Earth during its orbit around the planet. Skywatchers enjoy viewing a supermoon because the moon appears slightly larger than normal compared to normal full moons. The difference, however, is not as glaring or easily seen by the naked eye for most people. As the moon orbits the Earth, it does so in an ellipse, with an average distance from the moon to Earth of 238,000 miles. As the moon circles, it varies a bit closer (perigree) and farther (apogee) from the Earth every month.
During the supermoon, however, the moon appears to be around 14 percent larger than a normal full moon and around 30 percent brighter. The difference may not appear as huge or drastic, but the moon can look even bigger if it is close to the horizon. Such can be explained by the fact that we can visually compare the size of things on the horizon, for example, buildings, mountains, trees, etc. to the size of the moon. This invariably makes the moon appear larger than normal. That is also the reason why most supermoon photos show the moon just at the horizon.
On January 31, expect the supermoon to present a moon that is larger and brighter than normal. On that night, there would be a blue moon and total lunar eclipse.
A blue moon occurs every 2.5 years according to NASA. It happens when there are two full moons in a single calendar month. The blue moon is expected to take place twice this year, on January 31 and on March 31.
The total lunar eclipse or blood moon happens when a full moon lines up with the Earth and Sun. In this configuration the Earth blocks out the Sun’s light, turning the moon from a white glowing orb to a deep red orb.
The maximum phase of the total lunar eclipse will happen at 7:01 am EST on January 31. It is best viewed when on top of a hill or mountain, or a tall building or rooftop.