Published: Wed, January 31, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Super Blue Blood Moon

Super Blue Blood Moon

The event we are talking about is called a "super blue blood moon" and it hasn't been seen since 1866!

Tonight, Australians get to see a rare total lunar eclipse, which occurs when the Earth's shadow moves across the moon, blocking out the light from the sun.

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The blue moon part is probably the least impressive - it's nothing to do with the colour, and simply refers to the second full moon of any calendar month, hence the common saying "once in a blue moon". Although it does not have a scientific definition, a "blood moon" occurs during a lunar eclipse when faint red sunbeams peek out around the edges of the moon, giving it a reddish, copper color.

It's the first time in 152 years the lunar event is taking place.

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The "penultimate" eclipse begins Wednesday morning at 2:51 a.m. but it is not until about 4:51 a.m. that the total eclipse phase begins, and lasts until 5:29 a.m. Workshops and lectures will cover different aspects of lunar science and cover topics such as the Moon's significance for India's Chandrayaan missions. That gives the Inland Northwest over 90 minutes to view the "Super Blue Blood" Moon in its totality. The best viewing area in Washington state will be Central Washington, around the Moses Lake Region.

According to NASA, people living in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, the eclipse will be visible before sunrise on January 31. A supermoon is when the full moon will be closest to the earth on its orbital journey - a mere 360,198km away, which makes it look all big and impressive. It'll be a long wait for skywatchers in the USA as Johnston predicts the next visible lunar eclipse will be on January 21, 2019.

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