A blue moon is when two full moons happen in the same month and actually has nothing to do with the moon’s color.
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, and supermoons occur when the full moon happens at the same time the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit.
Three Major Celestial Events Happening At Once
On Jan. 31, all three of these celestial events will happen at the same time. While the blue moon and the lunar eclipse will occur on Jan. 31, the supermoon will actually take place on Jan. 30.
The Moon Will Actually Look Red—Not Blue
As mentioned earlier, the term blue moon applies to the number of full moons in a certain period rather than its color. Instead, a lunar eclipse will actually end up giving the moon a red or orange hue.
“Sunlight is an energy that travels in waves. A wavelength is the distance between the tops of the waves. Sunlight has a range of wavelengths, some of which are visible colors. Each color has a different wavelength. Violet has the shortest wavelength and red has the longest. When all of the waves are together, such as when they travel in space, the light is white. When white light passes through an atmosphere, it can be broken up into visible colors and other wavelengths.
During a total lunar eclipse, white sunlight hitting the atmosphere on the sides of the Earth gets absorbed and then radiated out (scattered). Blue-colored light is most affected. That is, the atmosphere filters out (scatters away) most of the blue-colored light. What’s left over is the orange- and red-colored light. This red-colored light passes through our atmosphere without getting absorbed and scattered, before the atmosphere bends it (refracts it) back out, projecting indirect, reddish light onto the Moon.”
How To Catch The Super Blue Moon Eclipse
Unfortunately, just looking at the sky on Jan. 31 will not guarantee a view of the lunar eclipse. The easternmost part of the U.S. will be able to see the end of the eclipse at around 6:48 a.m. EST, but the event will most easily be seen on the western side of the country, according to Space.com.
If you’re in the Chicago area, you will be able to catch a glimpse and see the blood-red color of the moon as it enters totality at 6:16 a.m. In California? You’ll get a good view of totality, with the total phase starting at 4:51 a.m. and ending at 6:07 a.m. Anyone who lives outside of the 48 contiguous states is in luck, as Alaska and Hawaii will have the best views in the U.S.
Although 1866 was the last time this incredible event happened, you won’t have to wait too long if you miss it this year — there will be another one Dec. 31, 2028.