Eclipse watchers get a new treat


Posted 1/18/18

Eclipse watchers who did not get enough during the Great Solar Eclipse in August will have another reason to look to the skies at the end of this month.The Cleveland and Bradley County area is in for …

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Eclipse watchers get a new treat


Eclipse watchers who did not get enough during the Great Solar Eclipse in August will have another reason to look to the skies at the end of this month.

The Cleveland and Bradley County area is in for a rare, three-fold astronomical event on Jan. 31.

On that early morning, the sky will present the second full moon to appear during the month of January.

Those are sometimes called “Blue Moons,” and this one is noteworthy because it is the first of two Blue Moons of 2018.

Years with double Blue Moons, where two months have two full moons, are rare— they happen only about three to five times in a century. The next year that has two months with two full moons each will be 2037. The last time this occurred was in 1999.

It will also be the occasion of a “super moon,” at a point where the moon is only 1.2 days past the point of it’s closest approach to Earth.

That will cause the lunar neighbor to appear about 7 percent larger than average.

If those two facts aren’t enough for astronomy fanatics, add in a lunar eclipse.

Eclipsed super moons aren't all that rare, but the total eclipse of a Blue Moon hasn't occurred since March 31, 1866.

According to, most of North America will see a portion of the eclipse before the moon sets and morning twilight arrives, while Eastern Europe and Central Asia will see the eclipse already in progress when the moon rises.

During totality, when the moon is fully in shadow, the moon's northern limb will pass just south of the center of the Earth's shadow, darkening the moon's northern half more than its southern half.

The maximum part of the eclipse occurs when the moon is close under the horizon. The best time to view the eclipse in Cleveland would be around this time at 7:35 a.m.

Since the moon is near the horizon at this time, it is recommended going to a high point or finding an unobstructed area with free sight to west-northwest for the best view of the eclipse.

Also coming for celestial junkies, after a long hiatus from the evening sky, all five naked-eye planets will be visible this year after sunset.

First to return is Mercury, which will shine at dusk the week of March 15. Next comes Venus, which will cozy up to Mercury and the crescent moon on March 18.

That will be the start of Venus-viewing season when the dazzlingly bright planet will grace the western sky every evening until October.

On May 9, Jupiter will be at its closest point to Earth for the year and will look exceptionally bright in the southeastern sky after sunset that entire month. You will also be able to spot Jupiter right next to the moon on June 23, July 20, Aug. 16 and Sept. 13.


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