The phenomenon occurs only every 150 years and it will be visible in its entirety from Western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia.
The lunar eclipse will coincide with a supermoon – also known as a blue moon as it is the second supermoon in a calendar month.
The moon will appear 30 per cent brighter and 14 per cent bigger on Wednesday making it a ‘super moon.’
On Jan. 31, not every place on Earth will see the Blue Moon this month, because the second full moon of January won’t technically appear in those places until Feb. 1. These places include regions in eastern Asia and eastern Australia, where skywatchers won’t see the first full moon until Jan. 2 and the next full moon until the morning of Feb. 1. For example, in Melbourne, Australia, the full moon arrives on Jan. 2 at 1:24 p.m. local time, and the next full moon is on Feb. 1 at 1:26 a.m., so skywatchers will technically miss the Blue Moon by less than 2 hours.
But their fellow Aussies in Perth, in the southwestern part of the country, will get one, since the first full moon occurs on Jan. 2 at 10:24 a.m. local time, so the moon will still look quite full when it rises at 7:35 p.m. On Jan. 31, the moon rises at 7:09 p.m. and reaches fullness at 9:26 p.m.
Blue Moons are not as rare as the old saying “once in a blue moon” implies; they happen about once every 2.7 years, because the number of days in a lunation (new moon to new moon) is a bit less than the usual calendar month — 29.53 days as opposed to 31 or 30 days (except for February, which has 28 days, so a blue moon cannot occur). A sequence of 12 lunations adds up to 354.36 days, against the 365.24 days in a year. The discrepancy adds up over time, until a year will have 13 lunations as opposed to 12. For some observers, 2018 will feature two Blue Moons — one in January and one in March (with no full moon in February).
HR Madhusudhan, senior scientific officer at Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium said: “Lunar eclipses are best seen through the naked eye.
“Expect to see what you see on a full moon day; in fact, on the 31st, the moon will be less bright than it usually is since there will be the earth’s shadow on it.”
Amateur astronomer Praveen Suryavanshi said the spectacle is best viewed from a high vantage point or away from the pollution of city lights.
“To witness the January 31 event, all one needs is a high altitude area like building tops or terrace with a clear view of the eastern horizon devoid of light and dust pollution.
Supermoon and lunar eclipse
The real star of the show for moon watchers is the lunar eclipse on Jan. 31. The supermoon (when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth in this orbit) will be the day before, on Jan. 30 at 4:58 a.m. EST (0958 GMT). The moon will be 223,068 miles (358,994 kilometers) from Earth, compared to the average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 km), according to NASA.
Though a supermoon does appear slightly larger in the sky than a full moon that takes place when Earth’s lunar companion is farther away from us in its orbit, the difference is nearly impossible for most skywatchers to notice because the moon is so bright and the maximum possible difference in the moon’s apparent size is small (only about 14 percent), according to NASA.
Unlike solar eclipses, which are only visible from specific places on Earth, lunar eclipses are visible from anywhere it is nighttime. Lunar eclipses don’t occur every month because the plane of the lunar orbit is slightly tilted relative to the plane of the Earth’s orbit, so the Earth, sun and moon don’t always line up to put the moon in Earth’s shadow. For the Jan. 31 lunar eclipse, viewers in some places will not be able to see the entire event because it starts near moonrise or moonset. Lunar eclipses are only visible on Earth’s night side.
Observers in New York City will see the moon enter Earth’s penumbra (the lighter, outer part of its shadow) at 5:51 a.m. on Jan. 31. The penumbra darkens the moon only a little; unless you’re especially keen eyed, it is often difficult to notice. The moon will touch the umbra, the darker part of the shadow that gives the eclipse the distinctive look of darkening and reddening the moon, at 6:48 a.m. local time. But the moon sets only 16 minutes later, so New Yorkers will get to see only the first part of the eclipse. To see as much of the eclipse as possible, you’ll want to be near a flat western horizon.
The situation gets better as you move west. Chicagoans will see the penumbra touch the moon at 4:51 a.m. local time, and it will still be a good 26.7 degrees above the horizon (about 53 times the apparent width of the full moon). The umbral eclipse will start at 5:48 a.m. local time, and by 6:16a.m., the moon will take on its characteristic blood-red color as it enters totality. Even so, it will set only minutes later, at 7:03 a.m., just as the sun rises.