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Blood red super moon will rise on January 31

You could witness the third and most special moon of the super moon trilogy this week

  • Illustrative image of the blood-red moonImage Credit: Istock
  • Shaikh Hamdan with the supermoon in the backgroun
    Shaikh Hamdan, atop the Burj Khalifa, with the supermoon in the backgroundImage Credit: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

On January 31, a blood red super moon will rise across the world, the third super moon in a series that started in December last year. NASA is calling the series a 'super moon trilogy'.

Wait up, isn't it a 'Blue' Moon?

The moon rising on January 31 is going to be red for the most part. The 'Blue' Moon is named so indicating that two super moons in a month occurs is a rare occurrence, hence the term 'once in a blue moon'.  

Why is this one so special?

After two super moons in two months, you might be wondering what's so great about this last one.

The super moon rise at the end of January marks not one, but four separate lunar events on the same night for the first time in over 150 years.

The moon will rise this year in tandem as a Blue Moon, a super moon, a Blood Moon and will be topped off by a total lunar eclipse, which is what brings on the red colour.

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon does not receive direct sunlight from the sun as the earth is in between the sun and the moon. The only 'moon light' you see is refracted through the earth’s atmosphere, giving it a copper-red tinge.

“This is a unique event because the moon will be rising and as it comes on the horizon, it will be eclipsed. The eclipse is going to be a very big one as it will be coming from the Pacific Ocean all the way covering India and all the way to the UAE,” Hassan Al Hariri, CEO of Dubai Astronomy Group, told Gulf News.

When will all this happen?

The moon is set to rise in the UAE at around 6.06pm while the best time to view the red moon and the eclipse would be a few minutes later at 6.11pm. The moon will be quite close to the horizon at this point, so a high vantage point and clear skies is essential for a good shot at seeing it and getting photos.

The eclipse would end at around 7.11pm, so the red colour may no longer be visible after this. However the moon will still be at a super moon distance and appear quite large to the human eye.

Want to see a cool animation of how it will look? Click here

The moon will also be really bright on January 30 at 99.2 per cent illumination.

What is a super moon?

The astrologer Richard Nolle, who is credited with coining the term, defines a super moon as a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. This distance is at or lower than 361,000 kilometers (224,000 miles) from the earth.

Basically, the moon will look the largest and closest you might have ever seen it. This happens because the moon's orbit around the earth is elliptical, having both nearest and farthest points of orbit distance from the earth.

In 2016, the moon made its closest approach to Earth (356,509 km) since 1948. It won't be that close again until November 25, 2034.