Rare 'super blue blood moon' coming to Western US skies next week

(NASA)

You’ve witnessed a lunar eclipse, a “blood moon” and probably a “blue moon,” but for the first time in a very, very long time, the U.S. will experience all three combined on January 31, called a super blue blood moon (try saying that five times fast).

By long time, we mean this is the first time Americans will witness this event since March 1866 – less than a year after the Civil War ended – so you’ll want your telescopes and binoculars at the ready.

What makes this event so special? The moon will be closer to earth in its orbit and will appear 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a blue moon, and finally, this moon will pass through earth’s shadow for a total lunar eclipse. In the earth’s shadow, the moon will appear to have a reddish tint, giving its “blood moon” title.

According to NASA, people on the West Coast of the U.S. will see the total eclipse from start to finish. The umbral eclipse begins at 3:48 a.m. PST. At 4:51 a.m., totality will begin, with best viewing between about 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. local time. The totality phase ends about 6:05 a.m.

According to Space.com, sky-watchers in Alaska, the Hawaiian islands and the western part of North America will have the best view.

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