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Eclipse : Super Blue Blood Moon of Jan. 31

Lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse

The first eclipse of 2018 will be a lunar one that comes at the very end of the month, on Jan. 31. Sorry, Africa will be left out this time.

It will be a total eclipse that involves the second full moon of the month, popularly referred to as a Blue Moon. Such a skywatching event hasn’t happened for more than 150 years.

Early in the morning on Jan. 31, roughly half of Earth will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. As the moon moves through Earth’s shadow, it will slowly disappear from sight, only to re-emerge within a few hours. The celestial event provides an excellent opportunity to engage children and teenagers (and even adults) in intriguing activities to learn more about Earth’s closest neighbor.

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A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth all line up, with Earth between the moon and the sun. That means it can happen only during a full moon, when the sun and moon are on opposite sides of our planet. At that point, the moon can move into Earth’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse.

So why don’t we have a lunar eclipse every month? The moon’s orbit is tilted slightly on a path that usually brings it just above or just below Earth’s shadow. To have an eclipse, the three celestial objects must line up along the same plane. This lineup is called an eclipse season. Eclipse seasons occur roughly every six months and last about 34 days. When a full moon happens during an eclipse season, the night side of the planet can witness a lunar eclipse.

Areas of the world that will see the Jan. 31, 2018, total lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible Jan. 31 in the morning before sunrise for North America, Alaska and Hawaii. Observers in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand will see it during moonrise the evening of Jan. 31. Credit: NASA

Those of you that be seeing the eclipse, kindly take the necessary precautions.

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