A rare ‘super blue blood’ moon will appear this week, for the first time since July 2015.
A Blue Moon – the second full moon in a calendar month – will rise in the sky on Wednesday night, but it will also be a supermoon, appearing bigger and brighter in the sky.
Nasa has predicted an “extra special” sight for some parts of the world as the Blue Moon coincides with a total lunar eclipse.
But if you’re in the UK, you’re going to miss out and will have to get on a plane to spot it.
What’s a Blue Moon?
Blue Moons are defined as the second full moon in a calendar month.
The last Blue Moon occurred on July 31, 2015, and the next will be seen on March 31 this year.
Affelia Wibisono, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, said: “March is expected to have two full moons, which, by the modern definition, means there will be two Blue Moons this year.”
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To make things more complicated, Blue Moon can also been defined as the third of four full moons in one season – which astronomers say is the traditional definition of the lunar phase.
That interpretation would mean that Wednesday’s full moon isn’t blue at all and the next one isn’t due until May 18, 2019.
Ms Wibisono said: “If we use the original meaning, then no, 2018 has no Blue Moons.
“There are three full moons between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (Jan 2, Jan 31 and March 2).”
What is a supermoon?
A supermoon is when the moon appears about 14% bigger and 30% brighter in the sky as it reaches its closest point to Earth.
So what makes this event so special?
According to Nasa, there will be an “extra special” celestial spectacle where the Blue Moon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse.
Nasa said: “While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a ‘blood moon’.
“With the total eclipse, it’ll be a royal spectacle indeed: a ‘super blue blood’ Moon.”
Who will get to see this spectacle?
Basically, if you’re in the UK you’ll miss out.
NASA has said those in the US and other parts of the world such as the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand will witness the spectacle.
But Dr Gregory Brown, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the eclipse would “definitely not be visible from the UK, not even a partial eclipse”.
When is it happening?
Dr Brown said the moon will rise at about 5pm and will remain in the sky until 8am the following morning.
He said: “It will be high in the sky from about 19:00 and will be at its highest, and thus best, time at around 00:40.
“This coming full moon is unusual in that it is the second full moon of the month, when typically there is only one full moon per calendar month.
“Also, the full moon will be slightly larger than normal given that this is also a supermoon, so astrophotography will be more spectacular than normal.”
So if you can’t see it now, when can you see it?
For those keen to see a lunar eclipse in the British Isles, Dr Brown advises putting July 27 in the diary for “a more spectacular view” of the event.
(Top picture: Reuters)