A 'super blue blood moon eclipse' is coming

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The last supermoon occurred on December 3, when the moon was 222,761 miles (358,499km) from Earth.

The world was treated to a stellar show to start 2018 as the year's first supermoon appeared on New Year's Day.

Could this also be the year that commercial moon missions, with help from NASA, finally get off the ground?

A supermoon, a blue moon and a full lunar eclipse will all take place simultaneously in what has been called a super blue blood moon eclipse. On average they occur once every two and a half years.

How unusual are Blue Moon eclipses?

Supermoons happen when a full moon coincides with the moon's perigee - a point in its orbit at when it is closest to Earth.

Regardless of how that turns out, the moon will be faithfully making its rounds up in the sky. But it will be 31 January that will be the most dramatic and unusual of all, and the one that Nasa is advising people to make sure they catch.

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Timetable for the main stages of the January 31, 2018, blue moon total lunar eclipse, for six time zones.

The total eclipse will begin at 8.51pm and end at 10.08pm, while the partial eclipse will end at 11.11pm.

Once in a blue moon?

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In a Blue Moon, the moon doesn't actually appear blue; instead, the name indicates that it is the second full moon in a particular month. "But it's another great chance to watch the moon". "Folks in the eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it", said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on the agency's website.

Following the two full moons occurring in January, the calendar month of February will have no full moon.

The New Year's full moon is called a wolf moon, named for the howls of the hungry animals during midwinter.

"The moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth's atmosphere", according to NASA.

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