'Super blue blood moon' to take place during lunar eclipse

A supermoon is when the moon is the closest it will ever be to earth. Mark your calendars for January 31st!

January 31st, 2018 in the overnight hours is when you will need to look up in the sky to see the lunar eclipse with the added bonuses of a "Supermoon", "Blood Moon" and "Blue Moon".

A supermoon is when the Moon reaches its nearest point toward earth, making it appear 30 percent brighter and about 14 percent larger.

When the Moon appears red or is eclipsed, it is also referred to as a "blood Moon", so we will essentially see a super-blue-blood Moon at the end of the month - a phenomenon that hasn't happened since 1866!

Blue Moons typically happen every two and a half years, so this phenomenon, involving all three events in one night, is much more rare! We'll be seeing the second full moon in the month, and that full moon is deemed the "Blue Moon".

"BLOOD MOON": The scientific term is a "lunar tetrad" of four lunar eclipses in a row. The moon does NOT change color or appear blue during this time.

'It happens when the sun, the Earth and the moon are completely aligned, so that the moon travels through the Earth's shadow. The next series of lunar eclipses will occur in 2032-2033, with about a total of 8 lunar tetrads happening between 2000 and 2100, according to Frank Espenak with Canada's Royal Astronomical Society.

Our sky is blue because when the Sun's light hits our atmosphere, it scatters more blue light across the sky than the other colours. So where do you have to be to see the special event?

When the moon goes into Earth's shadow, the sunlight is passing though Earth's atmosphere and refracting onto the Moon, creating a blood-red colour across the lunar surface.

Obviously, a telescope would be ideal, but it should be fine to view with your naked eye as well!

To celebrate the event, Auckland's Stardome is hosting a "Special Sighting" event, staying open until 3am on Thursday, February, 1. "But it's another great chance to watch the Moon".



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