This week boasts a rare lunar event: a supermoon, blue moon and total lunar eclipse on Jan 31. The last time this occurred in North America was The last time that there was a blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse at the same time in North America was on March 31, 1866.

On Jan. 31, people on the U.S. East Coast will be able to see the moon enter Earth’s penumbra — the lighter, outer part of the shadow — at 5:51 a.m. local time. The penumbra darkens the moon only a little; it is often hard to notice the difference in the moon’s color. The moon will touch the umbra — the darker part of the shadow that produces the distinctive darkening and reddening of the moon during an eclipse — at 6:48 a.m. local time. The moon sets only 16 minutes later, so viewers on the Eastern Seaboard will see only the first part of the eclipse; they won’t be able to see our lunar companion transform into a full “Blood Moon.”.

As you travel west, the eclipse starts earlier, so more of it will be visible before moonset. Chicagoans, for example, will see the moon touch the penumbra at 4:51 a.m. local time and the umbra at 5:48 a.m., with the moon turning the characteristic red at 6:51 a.m. However, at that point, the moon will be only about three moon diameters above the western horizon, so observers should be sure to find a viewing spot with a clear view. That can make for some dramatic photos as the moon sets at 7:03 a.m.

People on the West Coast will be able to see the whole total phase of the eclipse, which starts at 3:48 a.m. local time. The moon will start to pass out of the umbra at 6:07 a.m. and will set at 6:54 a.m., before it fully emerges from the umbral shadow. (It will be mostly out, but not all the way.)

If the skies don’t cooperate and the moon isn’t visible where you are, you can watch it live online:

Here’s a bonus bit of trivia: the Denmaster and Mr Denmaster’s birthday are a perfect six lunar months apart. In 2003 the two lunar eclipses occurred on each of their birthdays.

How to Earn the Badge

  1. Watch the eclipse
  2. Leave a comment below with 5 factoids about lunar eclipses, super moons, and/or blue moons.

The astronomy Merit Badge program is kinda complicated. There are several levels. Each level consists of 5 event badges. You get points for each event, and every five events get you a merit badge with a bunch of bonus points. The number of points awarded for each event and merit badge increases with each level.)


1st event: stargazer1

2nd event: stargazer2

3rd event: stargazer3

4th event: stargazer4

5th event: stargazer5

REDEMPTION CODE for full-fledged merit badge after observing 5 events: starstruck

6th event: stargazer6

7th event: stargazer7

8th event: stargazer8

9th event: stargazer9

10th event: stargazer10

Expert Astronomer Merit Badge: expertastronomer

11th event: stargazer11

12th event: stargazer12

13th event: stargazer13

14th event: stargazer14

15th event: stargazer15

Galileo Expert Astronomer Merit Badge: galileo