For the first time in 35 years, a blue moon will occur during a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday, January 31, an event some have taken to calling a "super blue blood moon."
This rare lunar event is actually a combination of three different celestial phenomena: a supermoon, a blue moon, and a blood moon.
A supermoon is a full moon that occurs during its perigee, or the point in its orbit when it is at its closest to the Earth. The result is a moon that appears especially large and bright. A supermoon is about 14 percent more dazzling than an average moon.
This will be the second supermoon of the month. The first was visible on January 1 or January 2, depending on whether you were in the Eastern or Western Hemisphere. Since it is the second full moon of the month, it is also a blue moon.
At the same time, a total lunar eclipse will take place, where Earth will sit between the moon and sun, blocking all sunlight to the former and casting it in an eerie shade of coppery red. Thus, the term "super blue blood moon."
According to NASA, the "super blue blood moon" can be seen before sunrise on January 31, if you are staying in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, and during moonrise if you are in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia, or New Zealand.
Specifically, NASA says on its website, the action begins in the Central time zone when the moon is high in the Western sky. At 4:51 am CST, the penumbra — or lighter part of Earth’s shadow — will touch the moon. By about 6:15 am, Earth's reddish shadow will be clearly noticeable on the moon. The eclipse will be harder to see in the lightening pre-dawn sky, and the moon will set after 7 am as the sun rises.
“You’ll have more success if you can go to a high place with a clear view to the West,” said Gordon Johnston, program executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington, on NASA.com.
Last year, North Texans clamored to see a rare solar eclipse, the first since February 26, 1979. Unlike that event, this one will be safe to view with the naked eye.
ABC News offers the following tips for photographing the super blue blood moon.
Use a camera instead of a phone. If you must use a smartphone, adjust it manually so the moon doesn't look like a big blob.
Brace yourself. Steady yourself against a larger object, rather than merely holding your phone up with your hands, to avoid a blurry picture.
Frame it. Shoot the moon against a landmark to give it perspective.
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