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Super Blue Moon Meets Total Eclipse in Rare Astronomical Phenomenon

Super Blue Moon Meets Total Eclipse in Rare Astronomical Phenomenon

Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 - 06:00
A super moon eclipse of the closest full moon of the year is seen from Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway in 2015. (Reuters)

In a rare astronomical phenomenon, the world will witness on Wednesday the so-called blue super moon combined with a total lunar eclipse that will be visible from western North America to eastern Asia.

Noah Petro, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, said that the overlap of a blue moon, the second full moon in a calendar month, with a lunar eclipse while the moon is at its closest approach to the earth is the first such celestial trifecta since 1982, Reuters reported.

Petro said in a telephone interview: “A blue moon is not extremely rare, but it’s a nice coincidence that it happens in conjunction with these other two.”

The moon will reach its fullest on Wednesday at 8:27 a.m. EST (1327 GMT). A blue moon normally occurs about once every two and a half years. This month’s first full moon was on January 1.

The blue moon also will be a super moon, which occurs when it is at or near its closest point to the earth, or perigee. A super moon is about 14 percent brighter than usual, NASA said.

Wednesday’s moon will be the second closest of 2018 after the one on January 1. The lunar eclipse, which takes place when the moon passes in the earth’s shadow, will last almost three and a half hours.

NASA said it will start at 6:48 a.m. EST (11:48 GMT) and peak at 8:29 a.m. EST (13:29 GMT).

The total eclipse will be visible from the western United States and Canada across the Pacific Ocean to most of Australia and China, as well as northern Polar Regions. The eclipse will give the moon a reddish color known as a blood moon.

Petro said the eclipse is also a scientific opportunity for researchers in Hawaii, who will study what happens to the moon’s surface when it quickly drops from 100 Celsius in sunlight to minus 153 C in darkness. The speed of cooling can show what the surface is made of, such as rock or dust, he added.

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