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First Blue Moon total eclipse in 150 years to occur this month

05 January 2018
First Blue Moon total eclipse in 150 years to occur this month

On January 31, we'll get the third supermoon in a row, which will also be the second full moon of January and coincide with a total lunar eclipse. But before that spacecraft takes off, China needs to send a communications satellite to hang out above the far side of the Moon and pass signals back to Earth, which could happen as early as June. Now, sky watchers are preparing for an even rarer event this month: a blue moon total lunar eclipse. On Jan. 31, all three of these celestial events will happen at the same time. The supermoon in 2018 was seen 14 percent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than the one seen in July a year ago. The last day of January will see the third supermoon in the sequence.

NASA offers advice on when to look out for this super blue blood moon.

New Year's Day brought us a spectacular wolf full moon, named for the howls of hungry wolves in winter.

Unlike the other two bits of the stunning lunar night, this part will only be visible to some parts of the world, since it depends on the alignment of the moon, sun and the Earth.

Third - and probably most notable of all - the same night will see a lunar eclipse.

A full moon, known as the Blue Moon is seen over Loosely Row, near Princes Risborough, southeast England, July 31, 2015.

Being the second full moon in the month, it is also referred to as a blue moon.

As long as there is not too much cloud, the moon should be clearly viewable in the sky. This usually happens about every 2.7 years, though because February has only 28 days, a number of regions will get another blue moon in March 2018.

"The moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth's atmosphere", according to NASA.

There's still one thing to explain, namely the blood moon denomination. For some parts of Asia, including India, the eclipse will already be under way as the moon rises.

Here is everything you need to know.

The total phase will begin at 4:51 am PST along the US West Coast.