Once in a blue moon

A Supermoon Trilogy | Science Mission Directorate

But since it's rare to get a second full moon in a month, that moon doesn't have a name, making it a "blue moon".

SOMERSET skygazers were treated to "the biggest and brightest" supermoon of the year as it rose across the United Kingdom on New Year's Day.

So, the upcoming eclipse on January 31 will be the first total eclipse of a Blue Moon in almost 152 years!

Unfortunately because of the location of the moon when the eclipse is set to occur, not everyone on the planet will be able to see it.

On January 31, a rare and handsome celestial event, which only occurs once every 150 years, will be viewable from Earth. During this event, certain wavelengths of light from the sun pass through the Earth's atmosphere and reflect onto the moon, turning it a dramatic red colour.

The last couple of months have seen some odd evenings for the moon. There was a partial eclipse of a Blue Moon on December 31, 2009, but the last total eclipse of a Blue Moon is dated March 31, 1866.

This NASA chart by eclipse expert Fred Espenak details the visibility range and times for the January 31, 218 total lunar eclipse, which also occurs during a blue moon and near a supermoon.

The moon is called supermoon when it is visible full and is at at near its closest point in its orbit around Earth.

The moon rose just shy of full on New Year's Eve, promising a supermoon early in 2018.

Unfortunately, just looking at the sky on January 31 will not guarantee a view of the lunar eclipse.

Could this also be the year that commercial moon missions, with help from NASA, finally get off the ground?

To make the event even more spectacular, the full moon will also be a supermoon like the one on January 1.

Oh, and just because we know you're wondering - no, a blue moon isn't blue. "But it's another great chance to watch the moon".

What is a total lunar eclipse?

There's still one thing to explain, namely the blood moon denomination.

The total eclipse will begin at 8.51pm and end at 10.08pm, while the partial eclipse will end at 11.11pm.

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