A supermoon is not as rare a phenomenon as people might think. However, a supermoon, Lunar Eclipse, and blue moon occurring at the same time is definitely not a regular occurrence either. The last time that happened was over 150 years ago, and for the first time since then, a lunar eclipse will happen during the second full moon of a calendar month. This is all while being closer to earth than usual and NASA could not be more excited. On January 31, skywatchers can expect a triple delight and will not see a supermoon like this until next year, NASA tweeted.

What makes the supermoon super?

A supermoon occurs when the moon is closest to Earth in its monthly orbit and tends to coincide with a full moon. Astrologers describe this as a perigee. During a perigee, the moon’s appearance seems brighter and closer than usual. On this occasion, the moon will look up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than what we are used to seeing.

These types of supermoons are also cyclical and come around every 14 months or so.

This particular supermoon is the third in a trilogy that started back in December 2017 and won’t be seen again for another 14-month cycle, NASA shared in a video on their Facebook page.

The supermoon is best observed shortly after sunset or at moonset. This is because what is known as a moon illusion makes it appear bigger and brighter the closer it is to the horizon.

Supermoons are said to affect tide variations as well which makes the tides higher than normal due to gravitational forces in the atmosphere that pull the ocean’s water in the same direction. Known as spring tides, anyone at sea during this time should keep this in mind and exercise a little more caution than usual. For those on land, all that is required is a camera and perhaps some company.

Although this supermoon will not be as bright as the last one, skywatchers can still look out for a real treat.

Once in a blue moon

The name of the moon has nothing to do with its actual color. The term blue comes from the number of times a full moon occurs within a calendar month. The moon rotates around the earth every 27 days and we normally experience a full one about every 29.5 days. If a second full moon occurs within those 29.5 days, it is called a blue moon. Unlike the supermoon on January 1, this one does not have a name. The last supermoon was called the wolf moon because it was the first supermoon of the year and symbolized the power of a howling wolf. However, it is so rare to experience two in one month that this second supermoon will only be referred to as a blue moon.

The moon on January 31 will not be blue, but a reddish, almost blood-like color in its glow, thanks to a lunar eclipse happening simultaneously. This is sometimes referred to as a blood moon which makes this supermoon a blue blood moon as well.

Eclipsing the moon

A brilliant total lunar eclipse is set to join the trio of celestial happenings. An eclipse happens when the moon, earth, and sun line up perfectly while casting a shadow that temporarily blocks the sun. The moon will “lose its own glow and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight coming through the earth’s atmosphere and often cast in a reddish hue on the moon," NASA stated on their website.

Another interesting fact about the moon is that it is said to rule the feminine energy and astrologers believe that the magnified energy of a supermoon will focus more attention on issues affecting women in general.

This trio, it is said, will cast a powerful light on the female's personal and political life. Women should, therefore, pay special attention to their relationships, rights, and freedom.

According to NASA, the lunar eclipse will begin during moonset on January 31 and will last for about three and a half hours. The Northern Hemisphere will have the best view and those on the west coast of North America can expect clear visibility of the total eclipse. Other regions will only experience a partial eclipse because the moon will be over the horizon before it gets to totality. The super blue blood moon lunar eclipse showdown begins at 11:48 PM UT and reaches its maximum at 1:30 AM UT. All skywatchers should get their telescopes and binoculars ready if they do not want to miss this treat.

And unlike a solar eclipse, it is totally safe to look at with the naked eye.

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