Celestial spectacle: 'Super blue blood' moon to end January

Celestial spectacle: 'Super blue blood' moon to end January

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - After starting the new year with an astronomical bang, the first month of 2018 looks to also end in a spectacular fashion.

The first Supermoon of 2018 occurred on New Year's Day. The year's second Supermoon comes on January 31.

A Supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at perigee or its closest point to Earth in its orbit. Scientists say the difference between the full moon and the nearly full moon is imperceptible to most observers. The moon's orbit is not perfectly circular so its distance from Earth varies; the moon sits anywhere between 252,000 and 226,000 miles from Earth.

Since this will be the second full moon of the month, it's called a "Blue Moon." Blue Moons are not as rare as the saying "once in a blue moon" suggests. These occur once every  2.7 years, because the number of days from new moon to new moon is a bit less than a typical calendar month; 29.53 days instead of 31 or 30 days, according to Space.com.

"Blood Moon" occurs during a total lunar eclipse.  Eclipse totality will be viewable from western North America across the Pacific to East Asia, according to NASA. The moon will lose its notable brightness and turn a reddish hue; hence the "blood" monicker with totally eclipsed moons.

Lunar eclipses are visible from anywhere on earth that it's nighttime. Those in Louisville will see the penumbra, the partially shaded outer region of the shadow, touch the moon at 5:51 a.m., and it will still be 21 degrees above the horizon. The umbral, the shadow's dark core, eclipse will start at 6:48 a.m. and by 7:45 a.m., the moon will take on the blood-red color as it enters totality. However, it will set only a few minutes later, at 7:48 a.m., just as the sun rises. It's recommended that those wanting to get a glimpse of the lunar eclipse in WAVE Country find a high point or unobstructed area with a clear view west-northwest.

Send us your supermoon photos on our Facebook page or on twitter @wave3news.

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