January 31 will be an early morning show for Moon lovers. Starting about 2.51 a.m. Pacific Time will be a lunar eclipse, or “blood moon” as the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow and picks up a reddish tint. At the same time, the full Moon of Jan. 31 is also a “supermoon” when the Moon is relatively close to Earth and looks bigger and brighter, and a “blue Moon” because it is the second full Moon in one month.
Spaceprobes from three countries are currently orbiting the Moon, and there are plans to send robotic rovers back to our nearest neighbor. A recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by UC Davis geologist Qing-zhu Yin, sets out some things to do when they get there — ways that lunar soils could tell us about the early history of the Earth.