A supermoon, blue moon, and blood moon eclipse will all be rolled into one rare lunar event, on Wednesday morning, January 31.
“Super blue blood moon” — say that five times fast! It seems like there’s a rare lunar phenomenon happening every few months these days. But for real, the super blue blood moon eclipse on January 31 is indeed rare, with the last one occurring 152 years ago, back in 1866.
Since we’re all new to this specific lunar event, here’s a breakdown of what exactly the super blue blood moon will be combining …
According to space.com, “supermoons happen when the moon’s perigee — its closest approach to earth in a single orbit — coincides with a full moon.” This means that the moon could actually look brighter (up to 30 percent) and bigger (up to 14 percent), though you might need a powerful telescope to actually tell.
So how rare are supermoons? They can sometimes take place a few times a year, but the one on December 3, was the only one we experienced in 2017. Funnily enough, we also had a supermoon a couple weeks ago, on January 1, and will still get another one on January 31, for three in a row.
Speaking of two supermoons in January, the term “blue moon” refers to the event when two full moons take place within one calendar month. This is only possible in months that have 30–31 days, as the moon’s cycle is usually 29.5 days. To get even more technical, the blue moon is also defined as the third full moon in a three-month season that will have four full moons. On average, this happens once every 2.7 years.
A blood moon is a total lunar eclipse, which means that the sun, earth, and moon line up so that the moon is in the earth’s shadow, making the moon appear blood red. In Denver, the eclipse will actually occur in the early morning hours on Wednesday, Jan. 31, between 3:51 and 7:07 a.m. with the maximum coverage peaking at 6:29 a.m.
So what does it all mean?
Well, if you’re up at 6:29 a.m. on January 31, you’ll technically witness a moon that’s bigger, brighter, and redder — or, a super blue blood moon eclipse! The odds of that happening are pretty slim, and that’s something for the history and science books alike.
Care to weigh in on the super blue blood moon? Do you make a point of checking out rare celestial events? Tell us in the comments below!
*An earlier version of this article stated that the eclipse would be live in Colorado on Feb. 1. The article has been updated to reflect the correct date of Jan. 31.