The only satellite of Earth, the moon will be staging a rare event, a triple show - A Blue Moon, a Lunar eclipse, and a Blood Red Moon on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. It will be the realization of the adage – Once in a blue moon. The spectacle will be up for display across a major part of the globe — Western North America to Eastern Asia.

Once in a Century

The event is happening after 150 years, and denizens of the planet must consider themselves lucky that they will be witnessing this unique and rare spectacle.

The event will start at 5.53 PM IST in New Delhi when the lunar sphere will be eclipsed and will continue for 3 Hours and 45 minutes.

The total eclipse will happen at 6.59 PM and the period of totality will remain for a full one minute and thirty-two seconds. The moon will take a blood red appearance when it is in an eclipse state and hence the name –Blood Red Moon.

Residents in North America, Alaska, and Hawaii, can view the eclipse before sunrise on Wednesday. The lunar eclipse will start at 2.51 AM and end at 7.50 AM in Victoria. It will be a spectacular sight for sky gazers in Western Canada also.

Toronto residents will see a partial eclipse, starting at 5:51 a.m. and end at 7:51 a.m.

Enigma of the supermoon

Even if you are not a hardnosed sky gazer, you can still watch the moon in all its glory, and if it looks bigger, you are not imagining, since the moon will be closer to Earth.

The moon during its voyage around the earth does not transverse in a circular pattern but in an elliptical orbit with an apogee and perigee.

When it is in a perigee, it is closest to Earth, and the diameter seems to be more by 14%. Hence the name supermoon has been given to the moon in this state. However, there is nothing super besides literary sense, and the difference is hardly discernable to an unaided eye.

Once in a Blue Moon

This peculiar position of the Moon and the Earth happened twice in the month of January and hence the adage “Once in a Blue Moon” was born detailing the rarity of the event. This usually happens only once in 2.5 years.

Eagerly awaited by the scientific community

The Lunar Eclipse also offers the scientific community to conduct a number of scientific experiments. One such experiment which will be conducted by scientists in Hawaii envisages the rate of cooling of the moon’s surface due to the eclipse to know the composition of the moon rocks and material in a more detailed way.

Major effects on ocean tides

Scientists will also study the effect of Earth’s closest neighbor on the coastal flows, tides, waves, and turbulence.

The scientists contend that the tides will be one of the biggest and the strongest and will be studied via tide and pressure gauges across the ocean from Japan to California and along the British Columbia, Alaska and Arctic coasts.

Renewed interest in lunar studies

There has been a resurgence in interest of lunar eclipse in the scientific community. Even the US President has hinted that he will be looking to send humans to the moon again.

Sunlight reflected from the Moon’s surface during the eclipse will pass through earth’s atmosphere and provide a better understanding of its characteristics.

The bigger tides are caused by the combined gravitational effects of both the sun and the moon on the earth and its oceans. The tides increase by about six centimeters which are not significant on a normal day. However, if the weather is stormy, it can wreak havoc on the defensive dikes and breakwaters.

Much water had flown since the days when eclipses were often construed as an ill omen and a warning of impending disaster. Science has changed that and such periodic events are better understood and eagerly awaited by the scientific community for cutting-edge experiments.