Super Wolf Blood Moon: Why the upcoming lunar eclipse is special

The next total lunar eclipse won't take place until May 2021

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Sunday 20 January 2019 21:09
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The Blood Moon explained

The New Year may have just started, but it is already bringing with it a rare celestial event nicknamed the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.”

The super blood wolf moon, a total lunar eclipse, will take place on Sunday, January 20 into January 21 and will be visible to people around the world, but especially those in North America.

This is what you need to know:

What is the Super Blood Wolf Moon and when is it?

An eclipse occurs when the moon travels through Earth’s shadow, and the sun, moon and Earth line up perfectly. The super blood wolf moon is a lunar eclipse that will last 62 minutes in totality.

During the eclipse, the full moon will appear to glow red - the result of sunlight scattered and refracted around Earth, according to Space.com.

In North America, the eclipse will begin at 9.36pm ET on January 20 but will likely not be visible until 11.41pm ET and will end at 12.43am ET on January 21.

It will be the first total lunar eclipse visible entirely in the US since 2010.

Why is it called that?

The nickname Super Blood Wolf Moon comes from the various identifiers of the upcoming eclipse.

According to Space.com, a supermoon is when a full moon is closest to earth in its orbit. Supermoons, which the January 20 moon is, often appear larger than usual.

The term blood moon, although not an accurate descriptor, comes from the colour of an eclipsed moon.

Although the moon will probably appear red-tinged, the colour more closely resembles copper than blood. It can also appear black, gray, or brown.

According to NASA, the colour depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere.

And a wolf moon is the term given to the January full moon each year. The name was traditionally used by Native Americans.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac said: “In Native American and early Colonial times, the full moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.”

How can you view it?

The brightness of the moon means that it will be visible without the use of binoculars or a telescope, however, they can make it clearer to see.

To view the lunar eclipse, stand outside and look up at the night sky to let your eyes adjust to the darkness, then turn your focus towards the moon.

NASA: Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

It is recommended you find an area where there is no direct light such as street lamps.

Although the moment it is entirely eclipsed will be the most interesting to look at, it will also be possible to see the moon partially eclipsed.

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The eclipse will be visible in North and South America and parts of Western Europe.

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