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Lunar Trifecta: A Supermoon, Blue Moon and Lunar Eclipse to Take Place on Jan. 31

NBC4 - (NBC4) -- Sky gazers will be treated to a rare trifecta of celestial events during the early hours of Jan. 31, 2018.

For the first time in more than 150 years, a blue moon and supermoon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse.

"For the continental U.S., the viewing will be best in the West," said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA. "Set your alarm early and go out and take a look."

The Jan. 31 full moon will occur during perigee - the moon's closets approach to Earth during orbit - and will appear larger and brighter than usual, making it a "supermoon." Because it is the second full moon of the month, it's called a "blue moon."

But don't expect to see a blue colored moon in the sky. When this super blue moon passes through the Earth's shadow, resulting in a total lunar eclipse, it takes on a reddish tint, hence the name "blood moon."

The super blue blood moon will be viewable from western North America and across the Pacific to eastern Asia. For Californians, totality will begin at 4:51 a.m. PT with the best viewing between 5 a.m. PT and 6 a.m. PT.

"Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish," said Johnston. "Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5:51 a.m. ET, as the Moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east."

Johnston said the best opportunity for viewers on the East Coast to see the super blue blood moon will be around 6:45 a.m. ET. So get outside to a high place and make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west-northwest, opposite from where the Sun will rise.

For those in the Central time zone, the lunar eclipse will begin around 4:51 a.m. local time. The moon will appear to be a red color around 6:15 a.m. CT, and the view will remain until 7 a.m. CT when the sun rises, according to NASA.

The lunar eclipse will be visible in the Rocky Mountain region beginning around 4:48 a.m. MT. The eclipse will peak around 6:30 a.m. MT until 7 a.m. MT when the moon will set, according to the statement.

This rare alignment of events last occurred in 1866 and won't be seen again until 2028, according to Joe Rao of New York's Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History.


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