January skywatchers are in for a rare treat: a Blue Moon, a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon all in the same month.
The Blue Moon – second of two full moons in one calendar month – will pass through the Earth’s shadow on January 31, 2018, to give us a total lunar eclipse. Totality, when the moon will be entirely inside the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, will last a bit more than one-and-a-quarter hours. The January 31 full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. It’s the first of two Blue Moons in 2018. So it’s not just a lunar eclipse, or a Blue Moon, or a supermoon. It’s all three … a super Blue Moon eclipse!
Animation of the 2018 January 31 total lunar eclipse. The moon travels eastward through the Earth’s penumbra (light outside shadow) and umbra (dark inner shadow). The yellow line depicts the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane. Although the moon, at least in part, spends a little over 3 and 1/3 hours within the umbra, it is only totally submerged in the umbra (dark shadow) for about one and 1/4 hours.
If you live in North America or the Hawaiian Islands, this lunar eclipse will be visible in your sky before sunrise on January 31.
On the other hand, if you live in the Middle East, Asia, Indonesia, Australia or New Zealand, this lunar eclipse will happen in the evening hours after sunset on January 31.
First Blue Moon total eclipse in 150 years? Well… It depends on where you live. Yes, we’ve seen the social media memes going around suggesting this is the first Blue Moon total eclipse in 150 years. But the meme is true only for time zones in and around the Americas, not for the rest of the world. The last time that we had a Blue Moon total lunar eclipse – reckoning in world time (UTC, or GMT) – was December 30, 1982.
Eclipse times for North American time zones:
Eastern Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 6:48 a.m. EST
Moon sets before start of total eclipse
Central Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 5:48 a.m. CST
Total eclipse begins: 6:52 a.m. CDT
Moon may set before totality ends
Mountain Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 4:48 a.m. MST
Total eclipse begins: 5:52 a.m. MST
Greatest eclipse: 6:30 a.m. MST
Total eclipse ends: 7:08 a.m. MST
Moon sets before end of partial umbral eclipse
Pacific Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 3:48 a.m. PST
Total eclipse begins: 4:52 a.m. PST
Greatest eclipse: 5:30 a.m. PST
Total eclipse ends: 6:08 a.m. PST
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 7:11 a.m. PST
Moon may set before end of partial umbral eclipse
Alaskan Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 2:48 a.m. AKST
Total eclipse begins: 3:52 a.m. AKST
Greatest eclipse: 4:30 a.m. AKST
Total eclipse ends: 5:08 a.m. AKST
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 6:11 a.m. AKST
Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (January 31, 2018)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 1:48 a.m. HAST
Total eclipse begins: 2:52 a.m. HAST
Greatest eclipse: 3:30 a.m. HAST
Total eclipse ends: 4:08 a.m. HAST
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 5:11 a.m. HAST