Skywatchers in some parts of the United States will enjoy a rare lunar event, a “super blue blood moon,” Wednesday morning. But Carolinians and others on the East Coast will be lucky to catch even a glimpse of it.
If you’re headed to the West Coast by early Wednesday, you’ll be able to experience an unusual sight: a “supermoon” (when the moon is closer to Earth in its orbit) that is also a “blue moon” (the second full moon in a month) that undergoes a total lunar eclipse. Totality will last more than an hour, according to NASA.
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While the moon is in the earth’s shadow during the eclipse, it will take on a reddish tint, creating what is known as a “blood moon,” the space agency said on its website.
“I’m calling it the Super Bowl of moons,” lunar scientist Noah Petro told the Associated Press on Monday from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The last lunar trifecta occurred in 1982, and skywatchers must wait until 2037 to see one again, according to the AP.
“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” Gordon Johnston of NASA said on the agency’s website. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone. For East Coast viewers, the moon will enter the outer part of the earth’s shadow at 5:51 a.m., but it won’t be all that noticeable.”
The eclipse will begin here just as the moon is about to set in the western sky and the sky is getting lighter in the east, according to NASA.
The darker part of Earth’s shadow will begin to blanket part of the moon with a reddish tint at 6:48 a.m., but the moon will set less than a half-hour later, Johnston said.
“So your best opportunity if you live in the East is to head outside about 6:45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse,” Johnston said. “Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west-northwest, opposite from where the sun will rise.”
You also can watch it from home at http://nasa.gov. The agency will have multiple telescopes streaming the eclipse, Petro tweeted, so “everyone can enjoy the eclipse!”
If you miss Wednesday’s lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait nearly another year for the next one visible to North America. The lunar eclipse on Jan. 21, 2019, will be seen across the United States, Johnston said, adding that the moon will be a supermoon but not a blue moon.