For astronomy lovers, the past few months have been very exciting, as we were treated not only to a rare total solar eclipse, but also nearly back-to-back supermoons.
Now we're in for perhaps the rarest treat of all: a super blue blood moon. That's definitely a mouthful.
But what exactly does it mean?
Well, it is the rare combination of a lunar eclipse, a supermoon, and a blue moon.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the above terms, let's break it down even further.
A lunar eclipse, also sometimes called a blood moon, occurs when the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned in such a way that the moon is completely covered by Earth's shadow, thus blocking it from the sun's rays. The refracted light ends up casting a reddish hue, thus the blood moon nickname. A lunar eclipse can only occur during a full moon.
A supermoon is is a full moon that is closest in its orbit to Earth, giving it a noticeably larger and brighter appearance.
And a blue moon is the second full moon in a given month. And since we had our first full moon on Jan. 3, the full moon on the 31st fits the bill.
Here's a helpful diagram:
Description of how "super blue blood moon" occurs https://t.co/schKOYnePn— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1517226300.0
The rare trilogy of events will mark the first time since 1866 that a super blue blood moon will light up the skies:
You'll be able to see a rare, super-blue-blood-moon on the 31st of January - Not only will it be the second full mo… https://t.co/YmeiaD9IVR— Bill Gross (@Bill Gross)1517182677.0
Besides the once-in-a-lifetime lunar event being the perfect moment to break out your camera and snap some photos and videos, NASA scientists are anticipating a rare chance to study the moon like never before. Most noticeably how the moon reacts to rapid cooling.
"During a lunar eclipse, the temperature swing is so dramatic that it's as if the surface of the Moon goes from being in an oven to being in a freezer in just a few hours," Noah Petro, a deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter told NASA.gov.
Scientists will use a thermal camera to study how the moon's surface responds to the change in temperatures, hoping to further understand how the rocks and soil change over time.
On Jan. 31, 3 lunar events will come together in an unusual overlap that’s being called a super blue blood moon. Se… https://t.co/zSw5yTs1Fy— NASA (@NASA)1517178901.0
Various news outlets around the world have been preparing the public for the event as well:
Rare 'super blue blood moon' will light the sky on January 31 It may sound like the apocalypse is nigh, so let's b… https://t.co/eIw3TP63KP— CNN Philippines (@CNN Philippines)1517196614.0
Skywatchers are in for a rare treat this week: a super blue blood moon. Here's everything you need to know about it… https://t.co/5zJiwDnarn— ABC News (@ABC News)1517187231.0
A total lunar eclipse is set to occur on January 31, coinciding with a "#supermoon" as well as a "blue moon.” Dubbe… https://t.co/ETsp8z8Dht— ShanghaiEye (@ShanghaiEye)1517201622.0
A "super blue blood moon" is coming and if you can drag yourself out of bed during the pre-dawn hours next Wednesda… https://t.co/8IJK4Ouh9w— CNN International (@CNN International)1517211017.0
While Australia, New Zealand, and eastern Asia will have some of the best views, a good portion of South America, Europe, and Africa won't have a view of the event at all:
@NASA @NASAMoon #SuperBlueBloodMoon https://t.co/cQY2NrmWxc— Virpi Heikkilä 🐾 (@Virpi Heikkilä 🐾)1517179128.0
@VirpiHeikkila @NASA @NASAMoon Why why do I have to be in Britain why?— Russell Howell (@Russell Howell)1517179169.0
And although some may be looking to the event as the perfect time for the apocalypse, others have their sights set somewhere else entirely:
@NASA @NASAMoon ariana grande is coming— khalid (@khalid)1517253588.0
@NASA @NASAMoon Ariana grandes fourth album will be called blood moon wbk— josh (@josh)1517257128.0
@NASA @NASAMoon AG4 IS COMING— ariana grande (@ariana grande)1517253766.0
Looking forward to the countless images early Wednesday morning that are sure to flood social media. After all, things like this only happen once in a super blue blood moon.