Been spending the start of 2018 looking to the future? That's what new years are all about, but tonight you might want to look to the skies as well. As part of a summer filled with supermoons, an extremely rare celestial event will occur: a super blue blood moon — or a supermoon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse, aka a blood moon, all at once.
On the evening of January 31, it'll be time to peer above to see a piece of history. The last time this trifecta happened at the same time was back on March 31, 1866. They'll be more frequent in the coming decades, with others expected on December 31, 2028 and January 31, 2037. Still, if you miss it this month, ten years is a long time to wait.
WHAT IS IT?
If you're more familiar with The Mighty Boosh's take on the moon than actual lunar terms, here's what you need to know. As we all learned back in November 2016, a supermoon is a new moon or full moon that occurs when the moon reaches the closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. They're not uncommon; two have taken place since the beginning of December. The supermoon at the end of January will be a full moon, which is why it's also a blue moon.
A blue moon refers to the second full moon occurring in a calendar month. Despite the saying, they happen more often than you might think, with the last taking place in July 2015, and another due in March this year. And then there's the lunar eclipse, when the moon passes directly behind the Earth, into its shadow, blocking direct sunlight. When the three celestial bodies are lined up, it makes the moon look like it has been tinted red.
WHEN CAN I SEE IT?
If you're keen to catch a glimpse, timeanddate.com has put together a handy to-the-minute schedule of when the eclipse will be happening in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The super blue blood moon is expected at around 12.30am in Sydney and Melbourne, and 11.30pm in Brisbane.
Sydney total lunar eclipse times via timeanddate.com
Have your cameras at the ready, obviously — and see if you can outdo the last big batch of supermoon snaps.
WHERE CAN I SEE IT?
Being in the southern hemisphere, we get some of the best views in the world — weather permitting, of course. Everyone in Australia should be able to catch a glimpse, but, even so, if you're living in the city, it would be best to as far away from light pollution as possible.
Typically, clouds and rain are predicted for today along the east coast, which could prove really screw up visibility. If you can't get a clear view, The Virtual Telescope Project will be live streaming the eclipse from 10.30pm AEST (9.30pm in Brisbane) here. Otherwise, there will be another total lunar eclipse on July 28.