A super blue blood moon is on the horizon

Stages of the super blue blood moon as depicted by NASA

The "super blue blood moon" will be most visible to people on western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands, according to Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA.

While visibility for the east coast will be limited, the phenomena should provide a likely once in a lifetime experience for those in the west, who should be able to see it in its entirety.

It will be the first time a super blue blood moon has occurred on the same night since 31 March, 1866. A blue moon is relatively rare, happening about once every two years... but there's nothing about it that makes it really appear blue. One explanation, however, is that it is a mistranslation from the Old English term blewe, b-l-e-w-e, which had two definitions, one was the color blue, the other was "to betray" implying two full moons in a month betraying the typical one. Two blue moons in one year only happens three to five times a century, according to TimeAndDate.com, with the last double taking place in 1999 and the next in 2037. In addition, it also occurs during a lunar eclipse. A full moon that happens near perigee is called a supermoon by some. Though the moon whirls around Earth at an average distance of almost 239,000 miles, it doesn't orbit in a ideal circle.

Chances are you have used the phrase "once in a blue moon" - but have you ever wondered where it came from?

People living in certain parts of the Western Hemisphere will be able to see a reddish and unusually large moon glowing on the celestial stage early in the morning on January 31. From the perspective of someone standing on the totality eclipsed moon looking back toward the Earth, they see a darkened globe rimmed in a red glow comprised of 360 degrees of sunrises and sunsets around the globe. The moon starts entering the Earth's umbra, the darkest part of Earth's shadow, at 4:48 a.m. MST.

So, a "supermoon" is when a full moon occurs at the same time as its perigee, the closest point of the moon's orbit with Earth.

But the blue moon is extra-special, right?

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The special pre-dawn full moon will rise on January 31.

Blue Moons don't look blue, but the eclipsed moon will turn a shade of reddish-orange. Without a doubt the moon will be a little bigger and brighter in the sky than a usual full moon is, but only about 7 percent larger and 15 percent brighter than average.

This is the first time in more than 150 years that the trifecta of events will coincide, so it's certainly a worthy cause for waking up early to admire it. A lunar eclipse is when the earth passes between the sun and moon.

Partial eclipse ends at 7:11 a.m.

Sky gazers will be treated to a rare trifecta of celestial events during the early hours of January 31, 2018.

So we have a blue supermoon coming up.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest in date to the autumnal equinox; it is usually the September full moon that takes the title of Harvest Moon.

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