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If you've never heard of a Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse, you're not alone...
That's because for the first time in a century-and-a-half, this rare celestial event will occur on January 31, 2018, delighting stargazers with a supermoon, a blood moon, and a lunar eclipse, all at the same time.
That's a lot to absorb, right?
Here's your quick go-to guide for understanding exactly what a Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse is.
Editor's Note: Need to get geared up for this month's Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse? Visit MrStarGuy for all your astrophotography and astronomy gear needs. MrStarGuy has everything you need to observe and photograph the beauty of this rare event, from astro binoculars to telescopes, astrophotography mounts to tripods. Explore their inventory by clicking here.
As the video above from United News International explains, the first component is a blue moon, which occurs when there are two full moons in the same calendar month. The first one this month occurred on New Year's night.
Then, add to that a lunar eclipse, which occurs when the earth moves between the moon and the sun, casting the planet's shadow on the moon's surface.
Unlike their solar eclipse counterparts, lunar eclipses can bee seen anywhere on Earth, so long as it's night. Get more details on lunar eclipses in the video below from NASA:
The final component is a supermoon, which occurs when the moon's perigee (the point at which it's closest to earth) happens at the same time as a full moon. However, during a supermoon, casual observers might not even notice a difference in the moon's size, as it's perceived size is just 14 percent larger than normal, according to NASA.
Separately, none of these events are particularly rare. However, all three happening at the same time is definitely a rare show.
As a result of all this lunar action, the moon will appear less bright than normal, with a reddish hue, thus the name "Blood Moon."
That red color is thanks to the way that the Earth's atmosphere bends light.
And while this beautiful astronomical event can be seen in many parts of the world, some will get a better show than others.
The best locations to see it will be those in the Pacific region, especially Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and the central and eastern parts of Asia.
Further west in India, the Middle East, and Europe, there will be less of a show, but skywatchers that wait for the moon rise will still be able to see part of the show.
Editor's Note: If this is your first foray into astrophotography, be sure to check out our Astrophotography section for tips, tricks, and tutorials that will help you get the highest quality shots. Our astrophotography partners at MrStarGuy offer our readers an excellent selection of gear at great prices. Add to that top-notch customer service, and you have a winning combination for learning how to take photos of the night sky with the right gear at the right price.
For those of us in the United States, the best viewing areas will be along the West Coast, the Rocky Mountain region, and the Midwest.
You have to be up early, though, as the best time for seeing the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse will be in the early morning hours.
In California, for example, the best viewing time is 4:51 am local time, at which point the total phase of the lunar eclipse will begin.
Skywatchers in the Rocky Mountain region will have to get up earlier, and be ready at 3:51 am local time when the eclipse begins.
Unfortunately, Americans living on the East Coast won't have as good a view. But that's okay - the next Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse is less than 11 years away on December 31, 2028.
Editor's Tip: To get the best results of the Super Blue Blood Moon Eclipse, use a Vixen Polarie Star Tracking Mount to track the eclipse as it occurs. Just set up your camera to bracket the exposure and time lapse, then set the Polarie for a lunar rate. Once you have the Polarie set, it will track the entire eclipse, and all you need to do is check the exposure when it gets close to totality. Get all the details about this incredible astrophotography device right here.