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The Moon cometh with a rare "trifecta"

Not since December 1982 has the cosmic trifecta of a supermoon, a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse been seen anywhere on Earth.

Lucky sky-watchers are about to get a cosmic three-for-one deal, as the second super-size full moon in a month undergoes a dramatic total lunar eclipse on January 31.

According to eclipse experts, the event marks the first time anyone on Earth has seen this celestial trifecta in 35 years—and the first time it’s been seen in the Americas in 150 years.

On the 31st, the moon will officially reach its full phase at 7:27 a.m. central time. This is the second full moon to occur in a calendar month, an event commonly referred to as a blue moon. Around the same time, the full moon will be making an especially close approach to Earth, a phenomenon popularly called a “supermoon”.

Adding to the space oddity, viewers in some parts of the world will also see a total lunar eclipse on the 31st. When the eclipse hits its peak, the moon’s face can sometimes take on a reddish tone, earning it the moniker of blood moon.

The nearly full moon reached its closest point to Earth today at 5:00 a.m. central time (January 30), when the moon will be just under 223,069 miles from our planet. This means the full moon on the 31st will appear about seven percent bigger and 14 percent brighter than usual.

But the most visually impressive part of this lunar show promises to be the total eclipse. Lunar eclipses happen when Earth is between the moon and the sun, so that the moon passes through Earth’s shadow.


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