Mark your calendar and set your alarm clock a little bit earlier to watch a total lunar eclipse on January 31! Northern Colorado will have a great view of the total lunar eclipse, which starts at 3:51 a.m. Totality will occur at 6:29 a.m.
The moon will gradually grow visible again until about 7:15 a.m., when it sets in the west, still partially in eclipse. (The exact time of moonset will vary, depending on your western view.)
Watch for the “blood moon” effect at totality! The moon will look like a full moon, but it‘ll be reddish in color rather than bright white, because the sunlight that illuminates it will be filtered by the earth’s atmosphere. At totality, the earth is directly between the moon and sun, but some sunlight still manages to sneak out. No special glasses needed; you can watch it safely with bare eyes.
A lunar eclipse can only occur at the time of a full moon. A solar eclipse, like we saw last August, can only occur at the time of a new moon; it happens when the moon is directly between the earth and the sun.
The January full moon we’ll watch get eclipsed and turn into a red moon is also a blue moon! And a super moon, too!
A “blue moon” is the second occurrence of a full moon in the same calendar month (the first January full moon was January 2). A “super moon” occurs when the moon is closer than normal to the earth, making it appear slightly larger than normal. The super moon part of the event actually occurs on the night of the 30th.
So set that alarm clock, and let’s all hope for clear skies. It‘s a unique chance to see a true super, blue, blood moon and an eclipse, all in the same morning’s dark sky.
For more about the total lunar eclipse, including a nifty animation of how it will move across the Earth, visit https://timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2018-january-31