A rare super blue blood moon is set to occur this Wednesday, Jan. 31, and stargazers are right to be (excuse the pun) over the moon about it. To understand their excitement, you’ll need to understand what’s happening, exactly. Even though the phrase “once in blue moon” suggests they’re rare, blue moons—the second full moon in a one-month period—are relatively frequent, taking place once every 2.7 years. Supermoons are full moons that occur at the closest possible point to Earth, making them appear slightly bigger and brighter, and grace us once every 14 months. And blood moons, also known as total lunar eclipses, take place about twice a year when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, turning it an eerie, copper-hued color.
But to have all three happen at the same time? It hasn’t happened since 1866.
It’s excellent news for those who missed out on the spectacle of last summer’s full solar eclipse. You may have to travel for the full-blown experience, though: “Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said NASA program executive Gordon Johnston in an official blog post. If you’re in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the super blue blood moon can be seen during moonrise on the 31st.
East Coasters in the U.S. have drawn the short stick this time around: “Eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the Eastern time zone,” Johnston said. “The eclipse begins at 5:51 a.m. ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.” If you’re not sure whether or not your town is a good place to view the super blue blood moon, Accuweather has a few great maps breaking down the viewing areas.
To watch it in luxury, there are still rooms available at the Four Seasons Lanai at Manele Bay far away from bright city lights. The isolated resort, re-opened by billionaire Larry Ellison in 2016, is perched on a bluff overlooking Hulopoe Bay with unfettered views of the Pacific night sky. For a different perspective, Alaska’s Hotel Alyeska offers super blue blood moon viewing against the backdrop of mountain, glacier, and the Northwest’s frigid Cook Inlet. And at California’s Auberge du Soleil, guests can behold the celestial event from the comfort of a private terrace overlooking the rolling Napa Valley landscape below.
Wherever you are, watchers should come equipped with the proper viewing tools. Swarovski’s EL 42 binoculars have a high-end price tag ($2,832) to match their construction; they’re especially good at producing bright images in low light. Or, there’s always this $16,160 gold-plated telescope. Consider it a once-in-152-years investment.
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