An upcoming cosmic event only happens once in a blue moon, so keep your eyes peeled. A blue moon, a name given to a second full moon within a calendar month, will be visible in the sky on January 31st. This moon will also be the third of three supermoons in a row. With this in mind, here’s how you can check out the super blue moon when it comes into town.
According to Space.com, blue moons aren’t as rare as the old saying “once in a blue moon” makes them out to be. One actually occurs every 2.7 years. However, due to this year’s lunar cycle, some nations will experience two blue moons this year (one in January and one in March) and no full moon in February.
Come the 31st, most places on Earth will be able to look up and see the super blue moon. But some observers in Eastern Asia and Australia will have to wait until the 1st of February to see the full supermoon in action. Therefore, those observers technically won’t be seeing a super blue moon, but instead just a regular February full moon (but hey, we won’t get mad if you still call it a blue moon).
The real magic of January’s super blue moon is the coinciding lunar eclipse that will happen alongside it.
The same night that the moon reaches its peak fullness (January 31st), the moon will enter into Earth’s shadow just before dawn. Lucky for all of us Earth-dwellers, a certain phase of the lunar eclipse will be visible in every nation. According to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the eclipse’s total phase will be visible west of Mississippi and in Western Canada.
Space.com lays out the full timeline of the lunar eclipse, so check out which phase of the eclipse you’ll be able to see in your area.
Also, don’t be disappointed when you realize that the super blue moon isn’t actually blue. This lunar phenomenon was termed “blue” after a mistake was made in a 1940s astronomy magazine.
No matter the color, the super blue moon and its lunar eclipse is something you’ll want to set your eyes on at the end of the month. Grab some binoculars, set an alarm, and prepare to witness a piece of cosmic history.