Featured image: During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks sunlight from the moon, casting a blood-like glow on the moon’s surface. (photo credit: NASA)
Tomorrow, January 31, we’re in for a rare celestial treat: a super blue blood moon. That’s when a supermoon, blue moon, and total lunar eclipse coincide.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, where it’s blocked from direct sunlight. This casts a red glow on the moon’s surface, turning it into a blood moon.
A blue moon is the second full moon of the month. This time, the moon’s orbit brings it closer to Earth, which makes it appear bigger and brighter (hence the name, supermoon).
The last super blue blood moon was December 30, 1982, and the next one—after tomorrow—will be January 31, 2037.
The best viewing locations are the western US and Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, western Russia and China, and the Middle East. In the eastern US, the moon will set before you have a chance to see the eclipse.
The eclipse begins at 4:51 a.m. Pacific time, peaks at 5:29 a.m., and ends at 6:08 a.m.
You can watch the total lunar eclipse safely without eye protection. You can also see it clearly without a telescope, but a telescope gives a closer perspective. If it’s cloudy where you live or you’re located outside the eclipse path, you can livestream the entire eclipse from two locations:
If you’re in southern California, the grounds at Griffith Observatory will also be open during the eclipse.