By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Bundle up and watch the total lunar eclipse, “blue” and “super” moons, and falling stars happening right over your heads this month.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Filipinos are in for several spectacles of the evening sky with the occurrence of a total lunar eclipse on January 31, which will be visible throughout the country.
A lunar eclipse happens when moon passes directly behind the earth. The moon will be blocked out by the earth’s shadow.
It will be also visible from western South America, North America, Asia, Australia, Middle East, Eastern Africa, Eastern Europe, Pacific Ocean, and Indian Ocean.
PAGASA said the eclipse will begin at 6:49 p.m. on January 31 (Philippine time) and will end at 12:09 a.m. on February 1. It noted that the greatest eclipse will occur at 9:29 p.m.
Lunar eclipses are safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes, PAGASA said, however, a binocular or telescope will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the moon brighter.
This month’s total lunar eclipse is said to be extraordinary as it will be the first total eclipse of a blue moon in 150 years, according to Space.com.
Blue moon, PAGASA said, refers to the second of two full moons occurring in the same month.
The first full moon occurred on January 2 and the second one will be observed on January 31.
“The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal ‘blue moon’ (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions; such as when there are volcanic eruptions or when exceptionally large fires leave particles in the atmosphere,” PAGASA explained.
The full moon on January 31 is exceptional because it also occurs as a “super moon.”
It will appear brighter and bigger than a usual full moon because it will be closer to the time of perigee.
Perigee is an astronomical term that identifies the nearest distance of the moon to the earth.
The full moon on January 2 was also a super moon because it was within 361,000 kms. (224,000 miles) from of the earth.
PAGASA said Filipinos can also view the annual Quadrantid meteor shower which will be active until January 7.
The observation of its peak activity is on January 3 to 4, in which meteors or “falling stars” can be seen at the rate of at least 40 meteors per hour, PAGASA said.
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