Not only is it Thaipusam today and Federal Territory Day tomorrow (for some of us, anyway), you’ll also get to see a rare natural phenomenon — the super blue moon lunar eclipse.

What is a Supermoon?

supermoon in sweden
Image Credit: Anders Jilden | Unsplash

It might sound like a distant cousin of Superman, but the supermoon phenomenon has nothing to do with Clark Kent. Supermoons occur when “the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit”, according to Space.com. What’s interesting is that the supermoon that occurs on 31st January 2018 is actually part of a trilogy of supermoons — the first one occurred on 3rd December 2017, while the second supermoon appeared on 1st January 2018.

This particular supermoon, however, also coincides with a lunar eclipse that will be best seen in western United States, the Pacific and eastern Asia. The last time a moon eclipse and a lunar eclipse coincided was on 27th September 2015. Supermoons are usually called “blood moons” due to its blood-red colour.

What is the difference between a Supermoon and a Regular Moon?

supermoon 27th September 2015
Image Credit: Celso | Unsplash // The Total Lunar Eclipse on 27th September 2015.

To the naked eye, there won’t be much difference in size for the supermoon. It’s “30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than usual” according to Sky & Telescope magazine senior editor Alan MacRobert, but this can be better seen with a telescope.

However, you’ll definitely be able to tell the difference during the moon rise since this will create an optical illusion that the moon is bigger. You’ll also be able to see that the moon has turned blood red.

The reason why the 31st January 2018 moon is also called a blue moon is because the eclipses happened twice in 1 calendar month.

How can I see the Supermoon?

supermoon in Telscombe Cliffs United Kingdom
Image Credit: Jake Hills | Unsplash // Supermoon in Telscombe Cliffs, United Kingdom

The supermoon will occur from 6:51pm on the 31st of January 2018 to 12:08am on 1st February 2018. A total eclipse will occur at 9:29pm, while the moonrise will occur at 7:17pm (this may not as visible as it occurs below the horizon), and the partial eclipse will begin at 7:48pm.

You’ll be able to see the total eclipse from 8:51pm to 10:07pm. This will be most visible to the naked eye simply because the moon will become red.

For those of you who are curious to see how the lunar eclipse will look like at the other side of the world, you can visit https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive to check out the eclipse live at the same time.

Timings of the Supermoon on 31st January 2018

Time Phase
6:51pm Penumbral Eclipse begins | Below horizon | Not directly visible
7:17pm Moonrise | Below horizon | Not directly visible
7:48pm Partial Eclipse begins | Moon is getting red
8:51pm Total Eclipse begins | Red Moon
9:29pm Maximum Eclipse | Moon in the centre of the shadow
10:07pm Total Eclipse ends
11:11pm Partial Eclipse ends
12:08am Penumbral Eclipse ends

Where can I see the Supermoon in Malaysia?

angkasa supermoon 31 January 2018 infographic
Image Credit: Angkasa National Space Agency | 31st January 2018 Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

These are some places which organised activities so you will be able to see the supermoon as a community (according to the New Straits Times):

  • National Planetarium, Kuala Lumpur
  • Teluk Kemang Observatory, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan
  • Selangor Observatory, Sungai Lang Parit Baru
  • Sungai Ayer Tawar
  • Ceral Al-Khawarizmi Hall, Tanjung Bidara, Melaka
  • Tok Jembal Beach, Terengganu (organised by Kusza Observatory)
  • Malaysia Langkawi National Observatory
  • Tun Mustapha Tower, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (Sabah Stargazers Observatory)
  • Observatory of Kota Bharu, Kampung Kubang Rawa, Salor, Kelantan

Of course, if you have a pair of binoculars or a mini telescope of your own, you can see the supermoon in the comforts of your own home.

When will the Supermoon / Lunar Eclipse next occur?

supermoon
Image Credit: David Zvonar | Unsplash

The next total lunar eclipse will happen on 28th July 2018, 1:14am to 7:28am. It won’t be considered a blue moon because it wouldn’t be part of a series of eclipses that happen in a month — those only happen once every 2.5 years.


Where will you be watching the supermoon tonight?

If you happen to miss it, or if the skies aren’t too clear, you don’t need to worry. Just get yourself a telescope or two from Lazada (with up to 11% cashback) to prepare for the next time the sun and the moon decide to cross paths.

Read More: AirAsia Brings You To 7 Natural Wonders You Forgot Existed In Asia

*Featured Image Credit: Bryan Goff | Unsplash