For the first time in 35 years, a blue moon will occur during a total lunar eclipse on Jan. 31, an event some have taken to calling a “super blue blood moon.”
If that sounds like a lot — it is. The alignment of the full moon will make it look like a “supermoon” due to its increased proximity to Earth, causing the satellite to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual. Additionally, it will mark the second full moon of the month, an event often described as a “blue moon.” And third, this full moon happens to fall during a total lunar eclipse, which is sometimes called a “blood moon” due to the reddish-orange light totally eclipsed moons emit.
“A lot of things are happening at once,” said Dr. Noah Petro, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It’s a cool event.”
If you don’t want to miss the blue moon eclipse, here’s everything you need to know about when it’s happening, where it’s happening, and how to watch it.
When is the blue moon eclipse happening?
The blue moon eclipse will occur on Wednesday, Jan. 31. For people in the United States, totality will begin around 7:51 a.m. EST, or 4:51 a.m. PST, with the period of totality expected to last roughly 1 hour and 16 minutes. Observers on the West Coast will enjoy a better view since the sky will still be dark when the total eclipse begins. Which brings us to…
Where is the best place to watch the blue moon eclipse?
As noted, people in California and the rest of the West Coast can enjoy prime views of the blue moon eclipse if they wake up early. Those in Mountain Time states like Colorado should get a decent look as well because they’re only an hour ahead. By the time totality begins on the East Coast, the sun will have started to rise while the moon will have begun to set. Depending on weather conditions, East Coasters may still be able to see the blood moon, but the sight will be less impressive without a dark, contrasting sky.
Petro also said that residents in Australia and Asia will get a “really good view” of the blue moon eclipse.
How should you watch the blue moon eclipse?
Unlike a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse cannot damage your eyes, making it safe to look at without any special glasses or equipment. The key is just to wake up early enough to view the spectacle and to get in a prime position to observe it without obstruction. That means it may be worth it for city dwellers to head out to more rural areas or open spaces without light pollution or tall buildings to get in the way of the blue moon eclipse.