The West Coast Will Have a Perfect View of January 31 Total Lunar Eclipse
It’s been more than two years since the last total lunar eclipse, but this month’s “Super Blue Blood Moon” will worth the wait, especially if you are on anywhere on the Pacific Rim.
The eclipse will start before dawn on January 31, and assuming weather cooperates, residents of North America’s West Coast, as well as northern Asia, New Zealand, and most of Indonesia and Australia, will have a perfect view of all of the stages.
For the rest of us not lucky enough to have a full view of the lunar movement, Sky & Telescope magazine reports that “anyone west of the line running from Chicago to New Orleans will see the first part of the Moon’s 76-minute-long plunge through Earth’s shadow.” The further west you are, the more you’ll see. East Coast moon-watchers, meanwhile, will only see a little bit of darkness around the moon, since the sun will rise just as the eclipse is happening.
A lunar eclipse is the result of the Sun, Earth, and the full moon forming in almost a perfectly straight line in space. The moon will move into the Earth’s shadow, and the lunar disk will temporarily turn orange or rid from its normal white. This will last 76 minutes, with its midpoint taking place at 5:30AM PST. Then, as the moon moves out of the earth’s shadow, the process will reverse itself until the moon returns to its brilliant, glowing white. The whole process should take more than four hours.
“Being in that sweet spot, the illumination straight on plus our atmosphere bending light makes it red,” Caitlin Ahrens, an astonomer at the University of Arkansas, tells Inverse. “Ever seen a gorgeous red sunset? It’s that same bending light effect our Earth atmosphere provides.”
All eclipses are pretty cool, but this one in particular promises to be spectacular, since it takes place just one day after the Moon passes its perigee, the point closest in its orbit to Earth, and this moon will look 13% larger than normal. That larger size is why it’s called a “supermoon.”
Moon-gazers might remember that this is the second supermoon this month, so if you don’t catch this one, hopefully you got to see the first.
The last total lunar eclipse was September 27-28, 2015.