The moon is about to do something it hasn't done in more than 150 years

January 3, 2018 by Alex Harris, Miami Herald
This is a composite image of the lunar nearside taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009, note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon. Credit: NASA

Call it whatever you like—a blue red moon, a purple moon, a blood moon—but the moon will be a special sight on Jan. 31.

Three separate celestial events will occur simultaneously that night, resulting in what some are calling a super blue blood eclipse. The astronomical rarity hasn't happened for more than 150 years.

A super moon, like the one visible on New Year's Day, is the term for when a full moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, appearing bigger and brighter than normal.

On Jan. 31, the moon will be full for the second time in a month, a rare occasion—it happens once every two and a half years—known as a .

To top it off, there will also be a . But unlike last year's , this sky-watching event isn't going to be as visible in the continental United States. The best views of the middle-of-the-night eclipse will be in central and eastern Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia, although Alaska and Hawaii will get a glimpse, too.

For the rest of the U.S., the eclipse will come too close to when the moon sets for the phenomenon to be visible.

Because of the way the filters through the atmosphere during an eclipse, blue light is bounced away from the moon, while red light is reflected. The eclipsed moon's reddish color earned it the nickname blood moon.

"We're seeing all of the Earth's sunrises and sunsets at that moment reflected from the surface of the Moon," Sarah Noble, a program scientist at NASA headquarters, said in a release.

Scientifically, Simpson said, the event is pretty meaningless. The moon's orbit is well studied and well understood by scientists. The real impact, she said, is how astronomical events like this get people interested in science.

"Anything that keeps people interested in science and makes them realize is important is a good thing," she said.

Explore further: SDO witnesses a double eclipse (w/ video)

Related Stories

SDO witnesses a double eclipse (w/ video)

September 2, 2016

Early in the morning of Sept. 1, 2016, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, caught both Earth and the moon crossing in front of the sun. SDO keeps a constant eye on the sun, but during SDO's semiannual eclipse seasons, ...

Partial eclipse of the sun visible across UK

August 15, 2017

If the weather is good, viewers across the UK will be treated to a partial solar eclipse on 21 August 2017, just before sunset. In a partial eclipse, a small bite out of the Sun can be seen at the mid-eclipse point, as it ...

Brief moon eclipse coming April 4

April 1, 2015

A brief total eclipse of the Moon may be visible on April 4 to skywatchers in western North America, Australia and East Asia, astronomers say.

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

15 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2018
lets have a tune
https://www.youtu...Mw1NeB-w

-Cue the earthquakes
Soundgardener
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2018
"Because of the way the light filters through the atmosphere during an eclipse, blue light is bounced away from the moon, while red light is reflected."

Er, what's the difference between being bounced off, and reflected? Curious minds are desirous of standing under.
rugeirn
5 / 5 (1) Jan 03, 2018
Who wrote this dumbo caption? "...note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon." Seriously? Who is this written for—a second-grader?
Phineaus
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2018
The lunar maria /ˈmɑːriə/ are large, dark, basaltic plains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbed maria, Latin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas. They are less reflective than the "highlands" as a result of their iron-rich compositions, and hence appear dark to the naked eye.
Windows-is-Insecure
not rated yet Jan 03, 2018
Caption: "... note the presence of dark areas of maria on this side of the moon." -

This caption has absolutely nothing to do with the article. It appears the writer simply found and used a pic of the Moon from NASA with everything which was already attached to the image and didn't edit it.

"... blue light is bounced away from the moon, while red light is reflected."

Perhaps phys.org could ensure their writers actually understand something about physics, and also put some effort into editing the articles on their site.
peabody3000
not rated yet Jan 04, 2018
oy.. disappointing clickbait from phys.org
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2018
Who wrote this dumbo caption?
This dodo
https://muckrack....harris-6
Perhaps phys.org could ensure their writers actually understand something about physics
Hey dodo noob this is a news release reprinted from elsewhere. You didnt see the byline? Usually how physorg works.

Learn something before dissing this site-
Gigel
not rated yet Jan 04, 2018
"... blue light is bounced away from the moon, while red light is reflected."

This probably means that as light from the Sun goes through Earth's atmosphere towards the Moon, red light goes more or less straight while blue light is diffused through Earth's air so less of it reaches the Moon; then light that reaches the Moon is reflected, hence the red moon.
Windows-is-Insecure
5 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2018
Learn something before dissing this site-


Ok, my mistake - I didn't realise this was nothing more than a tabloid printing unsubstantiated rhetoric and hearsay - Can you provide a link to the [Roswell alien invasion thwarted] pages, I can't seem to find them, and every 'good' tabloid has them.

Also, since you're clearly not aware, It's actually possible to provide answers without being a condescending, self-important, know-it-all douche - maybe give that a try next time.
Windows-is-Insecure
not rated yet Jan 05, 2018
"... blue light is bounced away from the moon, while red light is reflected."

This probably means that as light from the Sun goes through Earth's atmosphere towards the Moon, red light goes more or less straight while blue light is diffused through Earth's air so less of it reaches the Moon; then light that reaches the Moon is reflected, hence the red moon.


No, 'bounced' and 'reflected' are synonyms, but they're used in the description as though they're opposites.

Learn something about physics before providing incorrect explanations to topics about which you clearly don't understand.
jljenkins
not rated yet Jan 06, 2018

Also, since you're clearly not aware, It's actually possible to provide answers without being a condescending, self-important, know-it-all douche - maybe give that a try next time.


That's like asking a cat not to be catty. He's a mental case...that has to call out everyone as being a mental case. Look back over the years at his incessant "who's more narcissistic" feud with gkam. lol He must hate Trump. His whole raison d'etre in life is that since he's attended counseling and can't be proud of being a narcissistic personality anymore, no one else can. And since most don't know it, he's there to give 'em religion.

He's never going to see anything from someone else's POV. He's congenitally incapable. You're an object to be dumped on to him. He is the only person in the universe. roflmao Yeah, he must *really* hate Trump. Good I guess. If he ever faced facts he'd be very, very depressed. At least his rage is focused outward.
tcbretl
not rated yet Jan 06, 2018
Your Miami Herald article about the January 31 lunar eclipse contains nonsense. The eclipse will be visible across most of the United States and should provide a spectacular view as moonset approaches.
Gadieid
not rated yet Jan 08, 2018
OK.
A Total Lunar eclipse is special no doubt.
Supermoon is usually just something for the popular news channels, but this time the moon will indeed be brighter than usual, just before or after the eclipse.
Blue moon is nothing of any importance, human definition without any meaning.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Jan 08, 2018
That's like asking a cat not to be catty. He's a mental case...that has to call out everyone as being a mental case
Sorry but when I see something as ignorant, insulting, disrespectful, and offensive as this
Perhaps phys.org could ensure their writers actually understand something about physics
to the good people who provide such an excellent site where many of us come every day to enjoy and learn, I'm compelled to respond in kind.

You can defend pompous assholes and lying psychopaths all you want but do understand that by doing so you're trashing this site as well.

But then some people don't give a shit about anybody but themselves so oh well.
milnik
5 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2018
Why is there such a number of ambiguities, when is the moon being observed? That is why science has not yet learned the true path of heavenly bodies to date, and for the month it is a special story. I am asking both science and you: why is our moon (and many other months around other planets) always have one side facing Earth? To clarify this, one needs to know the right way of the month, but Kepler's laws need to be corrected. That's why the moon has so many looks for the observers.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.