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A rare 'super blue blood moon' will be visible later - but Ireland won't experience the full effect

The spectacle will be visible in clear skies above Australia, Asia and some parts of the US and Eastern Europe.

Lunar Trifecta Source: Marco Ugarte via PA Images

THE MOON WILL be providing the world with a rare triple treat today, in what’s being dubbed the “super blue blood moon”.

This evening, much of the world – but not here in Ireland, unfortunately – will get to see a blue moon, a supermoon, and a total lunar eclipse, all rolled into one. There hasn’t been a triple lineup like this since 1982 and the next won’t occur until 2037.

The eclipse will be visible best in the western half of the US and Canada before the moon, and across the Pacific into Asia later.

As you can see from the 3D globe below, Ireland is in the middle of the super blue blood moon’s blindspot:

eclipse Source: Time and Date

The US East Coast will also be out of luck; the moon will be setting just as the eclipse gets started. Most of Africa and South America also will pretty much miss the show.

A blue moon is the second full moon in a month. A supermoon is a particularly close full or new moon, appearing somewhat brighter and bigger. A total lunar eclipse – or blood moon, for its reddish tinge – has the moon completely bathed in Earth’s shadow.

“I’m calling it the Super Bowl of moons,” lunar scientist Noah Petro said on Monday from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The moon was actually closest to Earth yesterday – just over 359,000 kilometres. That’s about 2,400 kilometres farther than the supermoon on 1 January. Midway through today’s eclipse, the moon will be even farther away – 360,200 kilometres – but still within unofficial supermoon guidelines.

While a supermoon is considered less serious and scientific than an eclipse, it represents a chance to encourage people to start looking at the moon, according to Petro.

I’m a lunar scientist. I love the moon. I want to advocate for the moon.

Throw in a blue moon, and “that’s too good of an opportunity to pass,” according to Petro.

As the sun lines up perfectly with the Earth and then moon for the eclipse, scientists will make observations from a telescope in Hawaii, while also collecting data from Nasa’s moon-circling Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched in 2009.

Just like the total solar eclipse in the US last August cooled the Earth’s surface, a lunar eclipse cools the moon’s surface. It’s this abrupt cooling – from the heat of direct sunlight to essentially a deep freeze – that researchers will be studying.

Totality will last more than an hour.

“The moon is one of the most amazing objects in our solar system,” Petro said.

It really is the key to understanding the solar system, through interpreting the geology and surface of the moon.

Nasa plans to provide a live stream of the moon from telescopes in California and Arizona, beginning at 5.30am EST (or 10.30pm Irish time).

Read: Losing darkness at night: LED lights are boosting light pollution worldwide

August 2017: Check out this livestream of the solar eclipse

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Associated Press

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