January 2018 has been a month of lunar events.
First, there was a full moon on Jan. 1. The January full moon is always called the Wolf Moon, a name credited to howling wolvesthat were sometimes heard by Native Americans and European colonists at this time of year.
But that doesn’t seem like such a big deal. After all, we get one full moon every month — but not this January! That’s because there’s another full moon Jan. 31. It’s actually a blue moon, the name for a second full moon in a single month.
This blue moon will be even more special since it will occur during a total lunar eclipse, which begins in the early morning of Jan. 31, according to NASA. This means not only will we have a blue moon on Jan. 31, but for the Western U.S., Hawaii and half of Asia, the moon will also be a blood-red color as it enters the deepest part of the eclipse.
A supermoon is the term given to the moon when it’s at its closest to Earth in its orbit, which varies a little bit since the moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle. This January’s supermoon will appear about 11 percent larger than usual, according to Space.com.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, sun and Earth are aligned, and Earth’s shadow is cast on the moon. The spooky red color happens because the red light that passes through our atmosphere is bent. Space.com suggests thinking of the atmosphere as a lens that shines the light onto the moon, creating that crimson color even though the moon is completely in shadow.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in December 2017.