The blood moon on Wednesday, Oct. 8 will be the second total lunar eclipse this year but here's a reason avid stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts should not miss witnessing this phenomenon: the moon will appear bigger and the event itself will be marked by a rare spectacle.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that the red-tinted moon will appear 5.3 percent bigger than the previous blood moon in April 15 because it will happen two days after a perigee, or when the moon comes closest to the Earth.
The total eclipse is also made more special in that a rarely seen phenomenon known as selenelion, which happens when the sun and the eclipsed moon that can be simultaneously observed, will occur. The eclipse will also be the second in four tetrads-consecutive full lunar eclipses occurring in between relatively short gaps of time- and no tetrad is expected in the next 20 years.
"During the 21st century, there are 8 sets of tetrads, so I would describe tetrads as a frequent occurrence in the current pattern of lunar eclipses," said NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak. "But this has not always been the case. During the three hundred year interval from 1600 to 1900, for instance, there were no tetrads at all."
The rare lunar event will be visible in much of North America particularly favoring those who live in the western part, where the entire eclipse can be witnessed unfolding in the sky. The first half of the eclipse will also be visible to those who live in the East Coast but there's a catch. The event will happen early morning so late risers who do not want to miss the spectacular show need to wake up earlier than usual on Wednesday morning. The moon will align with the Earth and the sun eventually becoming redder starting 5:15 a.m. EDT. The moon will be completely covered in the Earth's shadow a little over an hour later by 6:25 a.m. EDT when the total eclipse occurs.
The phenomenon is also visible in many parts of the world. Skywatchers in Hawaii, Australia, Japan and much of the Pacific region will also witness the eclipse although it will occur in the evening. The early stages of the eclipse can also be seen in South America.
Those who live in Africa, Europe and the Middle East won't see the eclipse though because they are on the wrong side of the planet when the lunar event occurs. Fortunately, there is an option to watch the Oct. 8 lunar eclipse online as Slooh will have a live webcast of the event.