The astronomical and astrological worlds are excited about a rare event coming up at the end of the month.
What's called a super blue blood moon will dominate the sky over North America on the night between January 30 and 31.
"Blue moon is an expression, so the moon will actually not turn blue," cautioned astronomer Dr. Jeroen Stil of the University of Calgary. "There has been very rare occasions, say when the Krakatau (volcano) exploded in the 19th Century, the very finest volcanic dust apparently made the moon slightly blue, but that aside, the moon actually doesn't turn blue on a blue moon."
"What the blue moon means is the second full moon in a month," he explained. "It takes 30 days (moon cycle), so if that 30 day period just fits inside what we call, say January, February or March, then we talk about the blue moon, so it's the second full moon."
A super moon occurs when the moon turns full at or near its closest approach to earth: a blood moon occurs when the earth passes between the moon and sun, shading the former and making it look reddish. The last time all three happened at the same time and were visible from here was 1866.
"A full moon is always spectacular; the full moon is ten times brighter than the half moon that we call first quarter or third quarter," noted Stil. "The full moon rises at sunset, so you don't need to stay up late; if it's a clear day you can get spectacular moon rises during a full moon."
The lunar eclipse will begin at 4:48 a.m. our time on January 31 and peak at 6:30 a.m.
Photos courtesy of Wes Ens.