January’s Super Blue Blood Moon lunar eclipse can be viewed in Indonesia tonight, including the island of Bali, where Balinese mythology connects the phenomenon to the saga of the Kala Rau demon.
The moon won’t be totally dark, but should look reddish black, extra bright, and extra close, explained Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). Unfortunately, the moon won’t give off a bluish glow or anything — the “blue” part of its name refers to the second occurrence a full moon in a single calendar month (the first was on Jan. 1).
The eclipse should begin at about 6:50pm and end at 12:10am, BMKG predicts, with the peak occurring at 9:30pm. The eclipse will start out as partial, transition to total, then go back down to a partial once again.
Indonesia’s National Aeronautics and Space Agency (Lapan) explained that this eclipse happens when the full moon is at its shortest distance to the Earth, so the size of the moon appears 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.
The last time an eclipse of this sort coincided on a blue moon was back on March 31, 1866, according to Lapan.
The eclipse gets this special name, the Super Blue Blood Moon because its the combination of three phenomenon that rarely line up together at the same time: a blue moon, supermoon, and total lunar eclipse.
“The moon will appear to be a reddish black, known as the Blood Moon. This happens because some light from the sun enters the earth’s atmosphere as a long, red wavelength, refracted by the earth’s atmosphere to the moon,” explained BMKG Bali Geophysics Station observer, I Putu Dedy Pratama.
But science aside, the occurrence of the eclipse has a special explanation according to Balinese folklore, having to do with the mythological demon, Kala Rau, says Pratama.
As the story goes, Kala Rau went to drink water from Tirta Amertha, holy water that offers immortality, even though the water was only reserved for the gods. Ultimately, some things went down and Wisnu ended up decapitating the demon, sending his head floating up in the sky. The eclipse happens when Kala Rau succeeds in the capturing the goddess Dewi Ratih, who he was in love with, said Pratama.