The last day of January is going to see an extremely rare moon — a massive traffic jam of celestial phenomena all piling up at once. NASA calls it the “super blue blood moon” and while that sounds like a badly translated anime title, it all makes sense when you know what each word represents.
Below you’ll find details about this bizarre moon, broken down by parts, plus how you can best see it and how to get a great picture of it.
What it is
Let’s start by unpacking each bit of the phrase “super blue blood moon:”
- “Super” means it’s a supermoon: As we explained back in November, a supermoon is unusually close to the earth, and thus looks larger in the sky. This supermoon will be 14% brighter than normal.
- “Blue” means it’s a blue moon: The blue doesn’t refer to color; a “blue moon” is when there are two full moons in the same month. Hence the old-timey saying “Once in a blue moon.”
- The “blood” is due to a lunar eclipse: Since the moon will be in the Earth’s shadow, as we explained in October, it will take on a reddish tint.
Individually, these phenomena happen relatively often, but all three at the same time is a “lunar trifecta.”
How to see it
The main question with this super blue blood moon — for most of us — is how to best see it.
Here’s the deal: On the West Coast, the eclipse will start at 3:48am and the totality of the eclipse will wrap up around 6am. Yes, friends, this is an AM viewing opportunity — set your alarms. In Mountain Time, it’ll start at 4:48, but Central and Eastern it’s a little trickier. You’ll need to be somewhere fairly high up at 5:48 or 6:48 respectively to see the whole thing unfold, and you’ll need to move quickly, as the moon sets around 6am and 7am, respectively.
Here’s a useful chart giving you a sense of the timing.