Science

Total lunar eclipse on January 31

Total lunar eclipse on January 31

January 31st 2018 is definitely going to be a very special night for the moon as a rare combination of three celestial events, occurring only once every 150 years is about to take place.

Since the moon's orbit is elliptical, one side (apogee) is about 30,000 miles farther from Earth than the other (perigee). It won't be visible from anywhere on the continental US but Alaska and Hawaii will see a partial view.

Clearly the Eclipse will also be visible in Australia, New Zealand, Eastern and Central Asia.

On Jan. 31, a Blue Moon will also occur as the moon becomes full for the second time in a month.

Total eclipses will be visible from everywhere on the Earth that will have night, and the duration of each visible eclipse will vary from place to place.

North American viewers should look up as the moon sets on the morning of January 31, while those on the opposite side of the world should see a partial eclipse as the moon rises.

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A passenger plane passes in front of the wolf moon as it approaches Heathrow Airport in London on January 1.

Along the U.S. West Coast, the total phase begins at 4:51 a.m. PST. So, during totality, the moon's lower limb will appear much brighter than the dark upper limb. It will look bigger and brighter from the ground as compared to the usual full moon. There was a partial eclipse of a Blue Moon on December 31, 2009, but the last total eclipse of a Blue Moon is dated March 31, 1866. This promises to be a banner year for lunar exploration, and not just because of the renewed interest in sending astronauts back to the moon's surface.

Pagasa said the use of protective filters will not be necessary as lunar eclipses are safe for viewing.

"Often cast in a reddish hue because of the way the atmosphere bends the light, totally eclipsed Moons are sometimes called 'blood moons'".

We will have more to say about January's eclipse here at Space.com in the coming weeks.