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How to see the very special ‘super blue blood moon’ rising this week

A very special total lunar eclipse will grace skies above the Western United States on January 31.That evening, a “super blue blood” moon will rise, giving millions along the West Coast of the United States a chance to witness a special kind of total lunar eclipse.

The full moon will pass into Earth’s dark shadow in the early morning on Jan. 31, making the moon look at if it’s glowing red, hence the name, “blood moon.”

Totality should start at about 4:51 a.m. PT.

“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” NASA’s Gordon Johnston said in a statement.

A guide to the total lunar eclipse.

A guide to the total lunar eclipse.


People in California and western Canada will be able to see totality from beginning to end, and for folks in the central time zone, the best view of the eclipse should come at about 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. local time, looking to the west, NASA said.

“Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone,” Johnston said. “The eclipse begins at 5:51 AM ET, as the Moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”

Even though the eclipse will technically begin when the moon is still visible along the East Coast, people in that part of the U.S. likely won’t be able to see much of the cosmic show.

The moon will only just start dipping into the Earth’s outer shadow — called the penumbra — before it sets for people on the East Coast.

Of course, this isn’t just your average total lunar eclipse.

This particular full moon has a lot of branding.

The full blood moon is also a supermoon, meaning that the natural satellite is at its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit during its full phase. Because of its closer proximity to Earth, the moon will shine about 14 percent brighter than the moon is at its most distant point in orbit.

This is also the second full moon in a calendar month, making it a blue moon as well.

Hence the name, a super blue blood moon. So hey, use it as an excuse to head outside and look up for a little while.

“I have always been fascinated by the night sky,” Johnston said.

“Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the Moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night.”

IMAGE: A blood moon rising. IMAGE: NASA


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