Total lunar eclipse to coincide with Blue Moon, Super Moon


On the morning of January 31, people with clear skies across western North America will have front-row seats to the first total eclipse of the Moon since September 2015. For 76 minutes, the Full Moon will lie completely immersed in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, and the only light hitting the Moon will be the reddish glow from all of our planet’s sunrises and sunsets. But don’t fret if you live farther east — residents across the eastern half of the continent will still see an impressive partial eclipse.

The eclipse promises to gain extra publicity because it coincidentally lines up with two other lunar events. The January 31 Full Moon is the second of the month, so it also will be touted as a “Blue Moon.” And it so happens that this is 2018’s second-closest Full Moon, and thus the year’s second largest, which no doubt will compel some people to label it a “Super Moon.”

From North America, the eclipse occurs before dawn and delivers better views to those who live farther west. The eclipse action starts when the Moon first touches the lighter, outer part of Earth’s shadow, called the penumbra, at 5:51 a.m. EST (2:51 a.m. PST). [See the table below for eclipse times in all time zones.] Unfortunately, the penumbra imparts only a subtle darkening to the lunar surface, and few observers will notice more than a dusky shading on the Moon’s western half.

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