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Photo: NASA

A total lunar eclipse will take place in the early morning hours of Jan. 31, treating sky gazers in the western half of the U.S. to a stunning show.

The eclipse coincides with a blue moon event. The first full moon of the month shined on New Year’s Day, and the second will peak on Jan. 31 – marking the blue moon event.

This year’s blue moon total lunar eclipse event is the first in more than 150 years. A total lunar eclipse is observed when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, causing a shadow to be cast on the lunar surface. As a result, the moon takes on an orange color, prompting viewers to refer to it as a blood moon.

Viewers residing in places like Alaska, Hawaii and northwestern Canada will see the complete eclipse – from start to finish. Others in the western half of the U.S. will still get a good show, with the total phase of the eclipse beginning at 4:51 a.m. PST.

However, those on the east coast will mostly miss out on the event as the moon will just begin to enter the darkest phase of the eclipse as it sets into the horizon, around 6:48 a.m. EST.

The duration of the total phase should last about 77 minutes.

The last blue moon-blood moon event occurred on March 31, 1866. The next time a blue moon will also be a total lunar eclipse will be on Dec. 31, 2028.

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