The moon is putting on a rare cosmic show Wednesday.
It’s the first time in 35 years a blue moon has synced up with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse.
For those living in the US, NASA said the best spots to watch the entire celestial show was in California and western Canada.
“Weather permitting, the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii will have a spectacular view of totality from start to finish,” said George Johnston, lunar blogger at NASA, in a press statement. “Unfortunately, eclipse viewing will be more challenging in the eastern time zone. The eclipse begins at 5.51 a.m. ET, as the moon is about to set in the western sky, and the sky is getting lighter in the east.”
For observers living in New York or Washington D.C., the space agency suggested a 6.45 a.m. ET start for the best viewing.
“Your best opportunity if you live in the east is to head outside about 6.45 a.m. and get to a high place to watch the start of the eclipse,” Johnston said. “Make sure you have a clear line of sight to the horizon in the west, opposite from where the sun will rise.”
Last month, Jay Reynolds, research astronomer at Cleveland State University, told FOX 8, “Clouds forbidding, we can easily view this progression till about 30 minutes before sunrise, which occurs about 7:30 a.m.”
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The second full moon in a calendar month is a blue moon. This one also happens to be an especially close and bright moon, or supermoon. Add a total eclipse, known as a blood moon for its red tint, and it’s a lunar showstopper.
NASA is calling it a lunar trifecta: the first super blue blood moon since 1982. That combination won’t happen again until 2037.
The space agency plans to provide a live stream of the moon from ground telescopes, throughout the eclipse.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, casting Earth’s shadow on the moon.
Scientists are keen to study the sharp, sudden drop in temperature at the lunar surface, as Earth’s shadow blankets the moon. During the more than one hour of totality, the temperature will plunge 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), said lunar scientist Noah Petro of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He’s deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the moon since 2009. His team is taking special precautions to keep the spacecraft warm during the eclipse.
Perhaps just as important, Petro and others are hoping the big event gets more people looking up — not just Wednesday, but every day.
For the trivia crowd, the moon will be 223,820 miles (360,200 kilometers) away at the peak of the eclipse, close enough for supermoon status.
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