(Image via NASA)
January skywatchers are in for a rare treat: a Blue Moon, there is a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon, all in the same month.
A Blue Moon is when two full moons happen in the same calendar month; lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes into the shadow of the Earth; and supermoons happen when the moon is in the perigee — its closest approach to the Earth in a single orbit coincides with a full moon. In this case, the supermoon also happens to be the day of the lunar eclipse.
The first full moon of January will take place in the night of Jan. 1 or the morning of Jan. 2, depending on your location. The second full moon and lunar eclipse will occur on the night of Jan. 31, or the morning of Feb. 1. And the supermoon will take place in the night of Jan. 30, which is technically a day before the moon reaches peak fullness, but even the NASA is willing to call the event a supermoon anyway. [How to Photograph the Supermoon: NASA Pro Shares His Tips]
The first full moon of January on new year’s day. For viewers in New York, will take place at 9:24 a.m. local time; in the united kingdom, observers will see it at 2:24 pm local time, and in Hawaii, it will be at 4:24 p.m. local time (so the moon will be a touch past full when it rises at 6:06 pm).
Not every place on Earth will see the Blue Moon this month, because the second full moon of January is not technically appear in that place until Feb. 1. These places are regions in eastern Asia and eastern Australia, where skywatchers not the first full moon to Jan. 2 and the following full moon until the morning of Feb. 1. For example, in Melbourne, Australia, the full moon is on Jan. 2 in 1:24 p.m. local time, and the next full moon is on Feb. 1 on 1:26 hours, so skywatchers will technically miss the Blue Moon by less than 2 hours.
But their fellow Aussies in Perth, in the southwestern part of the country will get, because the first full moon occurs on Jan. 2 to 10:24 a.m. local time, so the moon will still be pretty full when it rises at 7:35 pm On Jan. 31, the moon rises at 7:09 pm and fullness reached at 9:26 pm
Blue Moons are not as rare as the old saying “once in a blue moon” means; they happen about once every 2.7 years, because the number of days in a lunation (from new moon to new moon) is a little less than the usual calendar month — 29.53 days as opposed to 31 or 30 days except for February has 28 days, so a blue moon can occur. A series of 12 lunations add up to 354.36 days, against the 365.24 days in a year. The difference is counted in the time, up to a year will have 13 lunations in contrast to 12 years. For some observers, 2018 will have two Blue Moons — one in January and one in March (with no full moon in February).
Supermoon and lunar eclipse
The real star of the show for moon watchers is the lunar eclipse on Jan. 31. The supermoon (when the moon reached its closest point to Earth in its orbit) is the day before, on Jan. 30 at 4:58 pm EST (0958 GMT). The moon will be 223,068 miles (358,994 kilometers) of the Earth, in comparison with the average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 km), according to NASA.
While a supermoon appears slightly larger in the sky than a full moon that occurs when Earth, the moon’s companion is further away from us in its orbit, the difference is almost impossible for most skywatchers to spot because the moon is so bright and the maximum possible difference in the moon’s apparent size is small (only 14 percent), according to NASA.
Unlike solar eclipses, which are visible only from specific places on Earth, the lunar eclipse will be visible in the night. Lunar eclipses don’t come every month because the plane of the lunar orbit is slightly tilted relative to the plane of the earth’s orbit, so the Earth, the sun and the moon is not always on a line with the moon in the shadow of the Earth. For the Jan. 31 lunar eclipse, viewers in some places will not be able to see the whole event because it starts in the near of the on-or demise. Lunar eclipses are only visible in Earth’s night side.
Observers in New York City will see the moon enter the Earth penumbra (the lighter, outer part of the shadow) at 5:51 pm, Jan. 31. The penumbra darkens the moon only a little; unless you are particularly sharp of eye, it is often difficult to see. The moon touches the umbra, the dark part of the shadow that the eclipse of the characteristic look of dark and red the moon, at 6:48 a.m. local time. But the moon sets at only 16 minutes later, so the New Yorkers will get to see only the first part of the eclipse. To see as much of the eclipse as possible, you want to be in the neighborhood of a flat western horizon.
The situation is better if you go to the west. Chicagoans can see the penumbra, touch the moon at 4:51 pm local time, and it will still be a good 26.7 degrees above the horizon (approximately 53 times the width of the full moon). The threshold solar eclipse begins at 5:48 pm local time, and at 6:16a.m., the moon will take on its characteristic blood-red color as the in the totality. Even so, it will only be a few minutes later, at 7:03 pm, just as the sun rises.
In Denver and points west, the eclipse will start at 3:51 pm local time, with the umbra reaching the moon’s edge at 4:48 pm, The point of maximum eclipse, when the moon is deepest in the shadow of the Earth, will take place at 6:29 pm For the Mile-High City, the moon will be after the lunar eclipse ends at 7:07 am local time, when the moon’s shadow. Moonset will follow at 7:10 pm
Californians have a better view of the end of totality, as the penumbral eclipse will start at 2:51 pm local time, and the partial eclipse starts at 3:48 pm At 4:51 pm local time, the total phase will start, ending at 5:29 a.m. Totality will end at 6:07 pm, and the moon will emerge from the umbra at 7:11 pm penumbral shadow will not be until after the moon is just below the horizon.
As one travels west across the Pacific ocean, the lunar eclipse will occur earlier in the night, skywatchers in Hawaii will be able to see the whole thing from the beginning to the end, just like the residents of Alaska and the viewers in east Asia and Australia. On Jan. 31, people in Tokyo shows the lunar eclipse is penumbral phase will start at 7:51 pm local time. The shadow on the moon at 8:48 pm, and the maximum eclipse at 10:29 pm, 11:07 pm, the moon will reach the other side of the umbra, and 12:11 a.m. on Feb. 1, arise and enter the penumbra. At 1:08 pm, eclipse ends for viewers in Tokyo.
People in eastern Europe and west Asia is something like a mirror image of the solar eclipse observers in the Americas will see, because instead of being near sunset, the solar eclipse begins before the moon rises.
Viewers in Moscow will see that the moon is a dramatic entrance as it rises while it is still red, and deep in the Earth shadow. The moon is there at 5:01 p.m. local time on Jan. 31, and the moon will reach the edge of the umbra at 5:07 pm, The moon comes from the dark part of Earth’s shadow at 6:07 pm In New Delhi, the moon will rise at 5:55 pm local time and will be completely covered by the umbra at 6:21 pm, so it is red, just as it reaches about a half of a hand’s width above the eastern horizon.
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Original story in Space.com.