The total lunar eclipse of a blue supermoon is expected Wednesday, Jan. 31. NASA/Fred Espenak

Moon puts on a show Jan. 31

The total lunar eclipse of a blue supermoon is expected Wednesday, Jan. 31.

People of the world, forget your earthly woes for but an hour, and turn your eyes skyward next Wednesday.

That’s right — the early morning of January 31, 2018, belongs to the moon. A total lunar eclipse is set to begin at 4:48 or so, MST.

According to Gary Boyle, “The Backyard Astronomer,” totality, or total eclipse, begins 5:52 am, with the greatest eclipse at 6:30 am — just as the people of Cranbrook are getting their second cup of coffee. Make sure you step out outside by 7:08 am, when total eclipse ends.

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He is now honoured with renaming of Asteroid (22406) Garyboyle.

“A lunar eclipse is a very safe event to look at as the moon simply slides into the earth’s shadow,” Boyle writes. “Light refracted through our atmosphere turns the lunar surface red, much like we see red sunsets.

“Although this eclipse is seen across North America, western portions will see the entire event.

But wait, there’s more.

This total lunar eclipse will happen during the second full moon this month — an event known as a “blue moon.” Some are claiming this is the first total eclipse of a blue moon in 150 years. It is the first of two blue moons scheduled for 2018.

Not only that, but the January 31 full moon is also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons. A supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that approximately coincides with the closest distance that the Moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit, resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth.

So don’t let that blue catch you standing alone. Grab your coffee and your nearest and dearest, step out on the deck and lift your eyes to the skies.

Cranbrook Daily Townsman

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