Don't Miss This Celestial Triplet: a Blue Moon, Supermoon and Lunar Eclipse

So what's a blue moon in the first place? So that closeness makes the moon seem about 14 percent bigger and, if it's a clear night, brighter as well. It will be a super bloody blue moon all in the same 20 hours. The closest point in its orbit is called the perigee. A second full moon in one calendar month is sometimes called a Blue Moon.

So on January 31, the world will be treated to a perigee blue moon total lunar eclipse. The shadow turns the moon a rusty red color, which is usually nicknamed a blood moon, making this a super blood moon.

The final celestial event of the night is the one that promises to put on a show-a lunar eclipse.

"Lunar eclipses are a great opportunity to see the moon in full detail and to understand why some ancient civilizations knew thousands of years ago that the Earth was round", said De Leo-Winkler, who is organizing the lunar observation together with UCR's Astronomy Club. Viewers from eastern Asia, the Pacific, and western North America will get the best view, but viewers in eastern North America and Europe will also catch a partial eclipse. The light is red, says Petro, for the same reason that we see red sunrises and sunsets when the sun is low in the sky and its light is filtered through the atmosphere. Stargazers further west will see more of the action.

Americans living in the Central time zone will have a better view. If you can't go out to see it, or clouds obscure your view, NASA TV plans to broadcast the entire event. The gas molecules of Earth's atmosphere scatter bluer wavelengths of light from the sun, while redder wavelengths pass straight through. The eclipse will be visible before sunrise on January 31 for those in North America, Alaska and Hawaii.

What is a blood moon?

NASA A NASA graphic showcases a timeline for the upcoming eclipse.

The total lunar eclipse will be visible in the western United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, large parts of Russian Federation and China, and parts of the Middle East. Totality, when the moon will be cast a blood red, begins at 4:52 a.m. PST, peaks at greatest eclipse at 5:30 a.m., and concludes at 6:08 a.m., spanning an hour and 16 minutes. Think of it as moon "wobble" that results in the moon getting even closer and giving us a really big super moon. That's the time between any particular phase of the moon, for example the time between two full moons.

"Nolle simply gave it a sexy name", Boyle says. This occurs every 29.5 days, when the moon is directly opposite the sun relative to the Earth. People in the U.S. will have to get up before dawn to see it - while the Middle East and Asia will share the more convenient evening show as Australia and New Zealand.

The second definition of a blue moon states it's the third moon in a season in which there are four moons, which happens about every 2.7 years.

For the first time in more than 150 years, a blue moon and supermoon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse.

  • Joey Payne