With the start of 2018 comes three rare lunar events. The best part is, they are all happening on the same day.
Three separate celestial events — a supermoon, a blue moon and a full lunar eclipse — will all occur on January 31.
The event is being dubbed a super blue blood moon eclipse, something that hasn't happened since the 19th century.
“The title ‘super red blue moon’ sounds a bit peculiar, but it describes an event where three separate lunar conditions come together simultaneously,” Professor Bill Boyd, from the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University, told news.com.au.
What is a supermoon?
A Super Moon happens when a full moon occurs at the nearest point to the Earth on the moon’s orbit.
The blood red moon
The Blood Moon is another term for a lunar eclipse, a moment when the earth blocks the moon from the sun.
The moon usually travels above or below the earth’s shadow, however on January 31, "it’s going to pass fully into the middle of the shade," saidProfessorr Boyd, adding, "as it does it gets more and more covered in shadow."
During the eclipse, the moon will look like it's turning red.
“The Earth’s atmosphere has the property of scattering the Sun’s light,” Australian Astronomical Observatory astronomer Fred Watson told the Australian Geographic. “The blue light is scattered more readily than the red – which is why the sky is blue in the day.”
“During an eclipse a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering occurs, taking out the blue and leaving only the red – causing a deep infilling of the Earth’s shadow, called a Blood Moon.”
The blue moon
As for the blue moon, the term originated in folklore and is defined as the second full moon in a calendar month: the first on January 2 and the second on January 31 at 9:26pm WA time.
That said, the time difference between states in Australia means the second full moon will fall just after midnight in NSW and Victoria (12:26am) bringing it onto February 1.
“The reason why the times are so precise is that it is defined by the moment the moon is directly opposite the sun in its orbit,” Watson said.
“We think of them lasting a few days because they remain large in the sky, but there’s an astronomical definition that fixes the full moon in time.”
When to see the super blue blood moon
Across the New South Wales’ North Coast and Gold Coast, the super red blue moon starts at 10.48pm eastern standard time, eclipsing fully from 11.51pm to 1.07am, and ending at 2.11am.