Rare Lunar Trifecta to Grace Skies this Wednesday

29 January, 2018, 11:10 | Author: Grady Montgomery

None of these things is really all that unusual by itself.

"Each one of them by itself isn't common, but putting all three of them together is rare", said Ben Burress, staff astronomer at Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center.

What makes the moon look full?

The moon will be entirely inside the earth's dark umbral shadow and will last a bit more than one-and-a-quarter hours.

Once in a blue moon there's a reason to get up in the middle of the night. But we can not see much of the difference with the naked eye. This occurs every 29.5 days, when the moon is directly opposite the sun relative to the Earth. January's first full moon rose on Jan. 1, making the Jan. 31 full moon a blue moon.

The moon's orbit around the earth is distinctly elliptical. That's when the moon slides into the earth's shadow. But twice in each lunar cycle, the moon does cross into our planet's orbital plane.

The last time it happened in Australia was December 30, 1983, the same year Bob Hawke was elected prime minister.




Finally, a lunar eclipse is when the earth blocks the sun's rays from reaching the moon, creating a reddish appearance on the moon's surface; this happens about 2-4 times each year.

Wednesday's lunar eclipse will not be fully visible in Ottawa, but sky-gazers can still catch a glimpse of it shortly before the moon sets in the morning. And, unlike a solar eclipse, no special glasses are required. Thus, after a gap of 150 years, blue moon, blood moon and super moon are set to occur at the same time. The next supermoon will be January 20, 2019. Since the lunar event is expected to happen during the evening, the moon will not go into complete darkness, rather the light will be scattered and may appear reddish. "The full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon super moons".

And even in the Earth's shadow, enough sunlight will pass through the atmosphere to illuminate the moon.

But a blue moon isn't blue at all, and Wednesday's moon will be no exception.

Secondly, it is also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a "blue moon". The same applies for two new moons. The month of January will be having its second supermoon next week. With this definition our next blue moon is in March, leaving February with no full moon this year. And we're just squeezing in this second full moon on January 31. Stargazers will need to wait until May 18, 2019, for a blue moon that fits this older, original definition. The point when the moon is closest to the earth is called Perigee and the point when it is farthest from it is called Apogee. The closest point in its orbit is called the perigee.

The long-term forecast for January 30 and 31 is partially sunny with a few showers.

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