Total lunar eclipse, Supermoon and blue moon all on January 31 Here’s what you need to know


January 31  will be a lunar trifecta event thanks to what is being called a Super Blue blood moon. What is in fact happening is that a supermoon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, and this also happens to be a blue moon. The rare combination of lunar events will be a treat visible to most parts of the world, including India. So what is the total lunar eclipse? What is a blue moon and a super moon? And, why is this one being called a super blue blood moon? Here are all your questions answered.

Why is this total lunar eclipse also being called a Super Blue blood moon? 

“Super Blue Blood Moon” as it is being referred to implies a combination of celestial events: blue moon, supermoon and blood moon. First off, a blue moon is the incident that occurs, when a full moon is observed twice in a month. This event is a rarity, as it has been found to arise once every two-and-a-half years on average, says NASA.

A supermoon, on the other hand, are full moons that take place when the Moon is at its closest distance to the Earth in the orbit. This point is known as the “perigee”. According to NASA, each supermoon makes our planet’s natural satellite appear up to 14 per cent larger, and almost 30 per cent brighter. The event slated for January 31 is the last in a series of 3 supermoons, with the previous two being visible on December 3, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

Finally, a blood moon is another visual episode, that is specific to lunar eclipses. During a lunar eclipse, the moon reflects the light coming off the Earth. The Earth, the moon and the sun are all aligned in one line and the Earth blocks the sunlight that the moon would have reflected and casts a shadow on the planet. However, the moon is not completely blocked out and the only light that we tend to see is red, because the earth’s atmosphere allows the red wavelengths to pass through, while all blue light is scattered.

So what exactly is a blue moon? 

For one keep in mind the moon will be closest to the earth and will appear bigger and brighter. But the colour will not turn blue. The event is called a blue moon only because a full moon is taking place twice in one month. A blue moon does not mean the colour or appearance of the moon has changed.

So what is total lunar eclipse? 

All eclipses occur as the Sun, the Moon and the Earth align in space. During a lunar eclipse, the Earth gets positioned between the Sun and the Moon. In case of a partial phenomenon, only a part of the Moon would be under Earth’s shadow. However, the entire moon is overshadowed by the Earth during a total lunar eclipse. Data from NASA shows that stargazers in India will get to experience this rare event on the evening of January 31, as the moon rises. The total lunar eclipse will start in India from 4:21 pm and last till 7:37 pm.