You’ve definitely heard of total lunar eclipses before. You’ve probably also heard of the phrase “once in a blue moon”, and you might also know what a supermoon is. But for the first time since 1982 (or 1866 for certain areas), the moon will be providing a very rare, tripe treat tomorrow night; a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, all rolled into one.
It’s all set to go down on Wednesday 31st January, in what people are calling a super blue blood moon (probably the most heavy metal name for anything ever) and what NASA is simply calling a “supermoon trilogy“. If it sounds like something you’d be into, listen up; it won’t happen again until 2028.
If you’re a tad confused, don’t worry; you’re not alone.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes in between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the moon. If the moon happens to be a full one, we get what’s referred to as a blood moon… which, for the record, is also happening tomorrow night.
Blue moons, on the other hand, happen when two full moons appear in the same calendar month. It happens every two and a half years on average, which is the root of that famous idiom on rarity. The blue moon would be the second of those two full moons.
Supermoons occur when the Earth and the moon are at or near the closest positions in their orbit, making the moon appear about 14% larger, and up to 30% brighter.
According to NASA, the moon will be over 15,000 miles closer to Earth than usual, and totality of the this triple-treat will last over one hour.
As with most celestial events, however, your ability to catch the whole show depends on where you are… and at what time. And it’s not looking too good for Malta.
NASA reported full visibility over western North America right before the moon set on early Wednesday morning, and all across the Pacific into Eastern Asia between Wednesday and Thursday. And if that sounds like awfully far away, it’s because it is. The US Each Coast, along with Europe and most of Africa and South Africa will all but miss that show. And yes, that includes Malta.
Let’s not be too hard on North America though; the last time they got a super blue blood moon was 152 years ago.
For all those people who won’t be able to see the nighttime show, NASA is offering a live stream of the entire event.
“Weather permitting, the broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes,” NASA said.
Of course, there’s already been links to the event being an apocalyptic omen of the return of the Messiah and the end of days, but we’ll leave that interpretation entirely up to you.