Twin Ports Area Residents Will Get To See A Rare Astronomical Event At The End Of January
We've all heard the terms "blue moon", "supermoon", and "blood moon" in the past few years. These events are all uniquely different events, but they will all be coming together for the first time in over 150 years on January 31.
For a refresher, here is what each of these things are:
- Blue Moon is a second full moon that occurs in a calendar month. The moon does not actually appear blue. A blue moon occurs once roughly every 2.7 years.
- Supermoon is a full moon that coincides with when the moon is closest to earth. The moon's orbit is slightly off center, meaning it is sometimes slightly closer or further away from Earth. The moon appears slightly brighter and bigger than a usual full moon.
- Blood Moon is a non-scientific term for the look of the moon during a total lunar eclipse. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon takes on a reddish hue because the sun's direct light (which normally makes it white in appearance) is obstructed by the Earth. Some of the sun's light passes through Earth's atmosphere, and the limited light filtered through the atmosphere leads to a red hue during a total lunar eclipse.
How rare is this?
These three individual events aren't extremely rare alone. The odds of them all happening on the same night is much more rare for a particular place on Earth. The last time North America was able to view a blue moon, supermoon, and blood moon all in the same night was March 31, 1866. It has happened since then elsewhere on the planet, most recently in December of 1982 (roughly 35 years ago) for people in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Where can you see it?
The short answer is anywhere in the Twin Ports area, or the rest of Minnesota or Wisconsin. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the first five states that will witness this phenomenon in the United States. Most of the eastern states will not witness a total lunar eclipse, while most areas west of the Mississippi River (plus Wisconsin, the Michigan UP, and most of Illinois) will see a total lunar eclipse at some point on the night of January 31. This is the part that is necessary to compete the blood moon, creating the trifecta of phenomenon.
What time will it happen?
While the blue moon/supermoon is set to rise in Duluth at 5:37 pm on January 31, the third part of the equation doesn't happen until much later. If you're looking to take in the blue moon/supermoon or get some pictures of it rising, this would be your time to strike. If you want to get the red tint of the blood moon as well, this will be happening in the morning hours of February 1. So...technically it isn't happening in January, but being it is January's second full moon (being that's when it rises), that's how it counts. Space.com explains that the lunar eclipse will start around 4:51 am, but best viewing for the reddish tint should be from around 6:15 am to 6:30 am in the Twin Ports.
Just hope for clear sky conditions early in the morning on February 1, and you'll be able to see all three phenomenon.