A Lunar Eclipse takes to the Sunday Sky

Lunar Eclipse coming on January 20, 2019.

A Lunar Eclipse takes to the Sunday Sky

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The moon, Earth and sun will line up this weekend for the only total lunar eclipse this year and next. At the same time, the moon will be ever so closer to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual — a supermoon.

“It not only is a supermoon and it’s a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long. It’s about an hour,” said Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan.

It begins with the partial phase around 10:34 p.m. EST Sunday, January 20, 2019. That’s when Earth’s shadow will begin to cover the moon. Totality — when Earth’s shadow completely blankets the moon — will last 62 minutes, beginning at 11:41 p.m. EST Sunday.

If the skies are clear, the entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America, as well as Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and the French and Spanish coasts. The rest of Europe, as well as Africa, will have partial viewing before the moon sets.

During totality, the moon will look red because of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why an eclipsed moon is sometimes known as a blood moon. In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon.

 

So informally speaking, the upcoming lunar eclipse will be a super blood wolf — or great spirit — moon.

However, the weather forecast for much of the US doesn’t look good. Asia, Australia and New Zealand are out of luck. But they had prime viewing last year when two total lunar eclipses occurred.

The next total lunar eclipse won’t be until May 2021.

As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles away. The Feb. 19 supermoon will be a bit closer and one in March will be the farthest.

 

The Lunar Eclipse of January 31, 2018, sets above the Statue of Liberty from Brooklyn, NY. The Super Blue Blood Moon of 2018 was the first time it had occurred in 150 years. Photo by Mark D Phillips