Stargazers are privy to a celestial triple threat at the end of this month.
Not only will Metro Vancouver witness a supermoon, but it will be the second in a one month period. In addition, it also occurs during a lunar eclipse.
The phenomenon known as a “blue supermoon” will light skies up in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, January 31st. The moon won’t actually be blue, because the term simply refers to the second full moon in a month. With that being said, the event is still very rare. The moon appears larger when it is in extremely close proximity to earth’s orbit, and therefore appears so much so bigger.
Not only is it the second full moon in the month, but it is the second supermoon in January, making it very special. In fact, the display only occurs about once every 2 and a half years.
Supermoon And A Lunar Eclipse
In addition, this supermoon happens to fall during a lunar eclipse – an astral phenomena that hasn’t occurred in 150 years.
As for the reddish hue?
“When a lunar eclipse happens, the moon appears to darken as it moves into the Earth’s shadow called the umbra. When the moon is all the way in shadow it doesn’t go completely dark; instead, it looks red due to a process called Rayleigh scattering. The gas molecules of Earth’s atmosphere scatter bluer wavelengths of light from the sun, while redder wavelengths pass straight through,” reports The Conversation.
“Beginning around 3:20 a.m. PST (1120 GMT), the moon’s leading edge will enter Earth’s partial outer shadow, also known as the penumbra. However, it is not until about halfway through the penumbral stage that viewers along the West Coast of the U.S. will start to see a slight darkening on the lower-left side of the moon. At 3:48 a.m. PST (1148 GMT), the partial lunar eclipsebegins when Earth’s full, dark shadow, also known as the umbra, slowly blankets the moon. Partiality will last for just over an hour, according to Sky & Telescope,” reports Space.com.
Following this, the total eclipse will begin just before 5 am PST and last for just over an hour; during this time the moon will develop its blood-red hue.
In order to see the moon most clearly, stargazers should opt to travel outside of city limits; light pollution from the city lights obscures the view. One great spot is Porteau Cove, a provincial park about halfway in between Vancouver and Squamish. In addition, higher elevations provide optimal vantage points to avoid lights below.
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