Go out and watch this spectacle for the ages

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol January 30,2018 - 10:08 PM


Seize this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

So was the advice of Oscar Tabada, director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)-Visayas, as a rare celestial event is set to grace the skies tonight.

An astronomical trifecta of a blue moon, supermoon, and a lunar eclipse will all fall on the same night for the first time in over 150 years.

“It has been a long time ago since this occurrence happened. And so let us seize the moment. This is but a once-in-a-lifetime event. We will never be alive by the next time this will take place,” said Tabada in an interview on Tuesday.

Since Cebu has no astronomical observatory, he asked people who wanted to witness the event to go to the shores or higher places to have a better view of the celestial spectacle.

While Wednesday evening will be a bit cloudy in some areas in Cebu, Tabada said it won’t disrupt one’s view of the “super blue blood moon.”

For those who happen to get cloudy skies over where they are, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be streaming footage of the rare occurrence.

NASA’s footage will be taken from the celestial views in California and Arizona.

Based on a map from NASA, the west coast of the United States will have the best visibility, while most of Asia will also get front-row seats to the celestial show.

When the January 31 moon peaks in the skies, it is the second full moon of the month.

“The second full moon of the month is what we usually call blue moon,” Tabada said.

Full moons roughly happen every 29.5 days. Since January 2018 began with a full moon on its first day, the month will close out with one too.

A supermoon, on the other hand, takes place when the moon comes within at least 361,000 kilometers from the Earth, and can appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

Supermoons can happen four to six times a year.

“Since the moon is nearest to the earth, it looks brighter and bigger,” Tabada said.

The real spectacle is the lunar eclipse when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow.

Since the moon takes on a reddish tint due to sunlight reflected by the atmosphere, the occurrence is called “blood moon.”

Best time to watch

Tabada said the lunar eclipse or blood moon begins at 6:49 p.m., reaches its maximum at 9:29 p.m., and ends at 12:09 a.m.

The rare celestial event is also visible in other parts of Asia, Middle East, Russia, Australia and parts of North America.

A similar event will happen on Dec. 31, 2028 but will only feature a blue moon and lunar eclipse, with no supermoon.

Jason Aufdenberg, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Embry – Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Florida, said the last time a supermoon, blue moon and total lunar eclipse took place was on May 31, 1844 at eastern United States.

No apocalyptic significance

Tabada reminded the people that Wednesday’s rare celestial event has no physical, mental, or any effect on human beings, other living creatures, or systems contrary to popular belief.

“We heard people saying that this will have an effect on pregnant women or it is a sign of forthcoming earthquakes. But no. There’s no truth to that. That’s nothing but a mere superstitious belief,” he explained.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu, advised people to simply enjoy the celestial trifecta instead of worrying.

“When an unusual phenomenon happens, some people read it as some kind of a threat or a warning. (But) it should definitely not be misread as the sign of the end times,” he told Cebu Daily News.

“I hope we do not fall into the mistake of looking at it as an apocalyptic sign. Let us rather use this event to marvel at creation which reminds us of God’s creative power,” he added.

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TAGS: ages, blue, GO, life, moon, OUT, Philippines, TIME, watch
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