5 '˜Super Blue Blood Moon' facts

Today, January 31, stargazers across the UK have a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - to see a Blue Moon, a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon, all on the same night, for the first time since 1886. So, here's some facts about this unique event.

A Super Blue Blood Moon, as its name suggests, is a combination of super, blue and blood moons and a lunar eclipse. It’s 150 years since the last one, so you should take the chance to see it today, January 31 - the best time is just after the moon comes up, at 5.47pm. A blue moon happens every few years on the second full moon in a calendar month – and after January it will only be a wait of two months before we get the next one in March. Fun fact: it’s not blue, the term ‘once in a blue moon’ just means a rare event - because full moons are separated by around 29.5 days, they usually happen in different months. The blood moon, however, IS red. It’s caused by the earth’s shadow during a lunar eclipse. Scientists aren’t keen on the ‘blood’ bit, however, as that seems to stem from Biblical prophecy. A lunar eclipse takes place when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, turning it a reddish hue. Today’s eclipse will, sadly, only be visible in the Eastern Hemisphere. Western Europe will miss out, but you can see it via Virtual Telescope, as well as the University of Western Sydney. A supermoon isn’t all that super - at 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual, the difference isn’t really discernible to the naked eye. It occurs because the moon is at the point in its orbit when it’s at its closest to Earth – the perigee. But we can be fooled into thinking we’re seeing a supermoon due to an optical illusion - when the moon is closest to the horizon it appears larger than when it’s in the sky - which is why moonrise is the best time to view it.

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