Prepare for a cosmic calamity—on January 31, 2018—a rare lunar eclipse will cause the world to explode into a million pieces. Just kidding. Do you want to see the 2018 Blue Blood Supermoon eclipse? Well, you better sip some coffee before the birds start chirping, because If you live on the east coast of the United States, you’ll only be able to observe the beginning of the lunar eclipse, which starts at 5:51 am (EST).
The Moon will not be visible during the entire eclipse. Sorry.
The rest of the world gets the cosmic shaft, too. Sort of. Great news! You’ll have a fantastic view of the eclipse…if you happen to be floating in the middle of the damn Indian Ocean. Well…that’s not really true. China will have a decent view, and so will Austraila, New Zealand, Russia, Canada…oh! Let’s not forget about Alaska.
When The Party Starts
** Lunar Eclipse Time Chart **
- New York—5:55am (Penumbra/setting)
- Kansas, Missouri—6:51am (Full/Setting)
- Salt Lake City, Utah—5:51am (Full/Setting)
- Seattle, Washington—4:51am (Full/Setting)
- Beijing, China—8:51pm (Full/Rising)
- Sydney, Austrila—11:51pm (Full/Rising)
Dragons, Eclipses and Time
Fantasy plots love to portray lunar eclipses as being quick and slick. Here’s a classic scenario: there’s a pretty damsel in some sort of distress. She needs help. Lots of it. Along comes, an armored stud with a very sharp stick. The town drunk told him about a dragon that awakens from hibernation during each lunar eclipse. Kill the dragon. Save the disturbed damsel. Ride off into the sunset. Mission impossible, right? Oh! The dragon can only be sent to hell during the eclipse. Have fun.
Here’s the real deal: a lunar eclipse usually lasts more than 3 hours. Yeah. I know. Sort of spoils the whole time-sensitive aspect of the fairy tale. Any armored stud would have more than enough time to execute a few dragons, and probably a handful of disgruntled ogres. 3 hours is a long time, of course.
You probably assume that dragons and ogres have nothing to do with lunar eclipses. Congratulations! You completely missed the point.
3 hours is a long time…that’s the point.
Now—will you be able to see the entire 2018 Supermoon lunar eclipse? Probably not. The Moon will either set below the horizon while the eclipse is occurring, or the Moon will be rising. That doesn’t mean the eclipse won’t last longer than 3 hours, though. It just means you’ll technically see less of the lunar eclipse.
If you’re able to observe most of the totality phase (plus the entire penumbra phase), then plan to be outside for at least an hour and a half.
** Lunar Eclipse Tips **
- Make sure all your camera batteries are fully charged.
- Filming HD video sucks up all the battery juice. Keep that in mind.
- Set-up telescopes/camera (as soon as possible).
- Bring spare batteries, extra camera, tripod, or telescope.
- Scout a decent location.
- Don’t underestimate the cold or heat. You’ll regret it.
- Don’t underestimate the local fauna (mosquitos/ticks). You’ll regret it.
- Bring refreshments or other forms of entertainment. You may or may not regret it.
Be aware of trees and buildings, because the view might be clear as the Moon is rising, and then become obscured by a mountain or rude oak tree. If you plan on photographing or filming the event, please do your damnedest to make sure the horizon is not cluttered with trees or ugly buildings. Something bad may happen. Just saying. Or you can risk it. Your choice.
Oh! If you plan on photographing the Moon during totality, then expect the Moon to be relatively dark. Obviously. The lighting conditions are not ideal for slow telescopes. Expect to shimmy between different camera ISO settings. Clouds, haze and other atmospheric junk may hinder your ability to properly photograph the Moon.
Also, if you’re able to observe the majority of the 2018 lunar eclipse—be prepared ahead of time—or you might end up cursing at a dead camera battery. Find out when the Moon rises above the horizon, that way you won’t have to bumble around your local neighborhood. Click the link below this paragraph, input your specific location, and the rest works like magic.
You’re probably wondering why Andromeda has her panties in a twist. After all…how many lunar eclipses occurred over the past few years? Please tell me. I lost track. Most of the lunar eclipses were of the ‘super variety’, but this year’s lunar eclipse is a little different. A ‘Blue Moon’ usually refers to the second full Moon in a particular month, but that definition is technically incorrect. Trendy. Still incorrect. The real definition involves the intricacies of astronomical seasons, but we don’t have to go there. Unless you want to.
The full Moon that occurs on January 31, 2018, is the second full Moon which occurs during January 2018. The first full Moon was on January 1, 2018…just in case, you haven’t noticed.
Here’s the cherry on top the cosmic sundae: the Moon will also be relatively close to Earth. Sometimes the Moon is a little closer, and sometimes it’s a little further away. The Moon will be close to Earth during the eclipse. Simple as that.
Mix all that up in a blender, pour it into a tall glass, and you got yourself a Super Blue Blood Moon eclipse. Tasty.
Want to know a secret? The Moon reaches perigee (closest to Earth) on January 30, 2018 (359,109km/223,139mi). The Moon will be a little further away on January 31, 2018 (360,678km/224,114mi). So…the event can’t technically be described as a ‘super eclipse’. Close enough, though. I guess.
The next lunar eclipse occurs on July 27/28, 2018.
Needless Scientific Fact of the Day
Perigee: the region in the orbital plane of the Moon or astronomical object at which it’s closest to Earth
You’re now ready to survive the lunar eclipse, my friend. Don’t humiliate yourself, and make sure all the camera batteries are fully charged. Be prepared. Watch out for dragons.
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Sweet cards. Sweet deal.
** Additional Resources **