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The first eclipse of 2019 will be a “super blood wolf moon”

Posted at 6:46 AM, Jan 17, 2019
Blood moon
(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

On Sunday night, North America will be treated to its first eclipse of 2019, and the last total lunar eclipse until 2021. This eclipse will be particularly visual due to the moon being a “super moon” and having a reddish tint often called a “blood moon.”

When is the eclipse coming?
As long as the weather cooperates, the “super blood wolf moon” will be visible across the night sky from Sunday, January 20th through the morning of the 21st. You might be a little tired for work the next day, but anyone willing to stay up late should be treated to a spectacular view.

The partial eclipse will begin across southern Colorado at 8:33 p.m. January 20th. The maximum eclipse, the point where the moon is completely covered in shadow, will occur at 10:12 p.m. with the partial eclipse ending just before midnight on the 20th. By 12:48 a.m. on the 21st, the moon will be past earth’s penumbra or the outer part of earth’s shadow.

Why a “super blood wolf moon”?
This lunar eclipse will be a combination of a super moon, a blood moon, and a wolf moon. Here’s what all of those terms mean and why they apply to this particular eclipse.

The moon revolves around the earth, not on a perfect circle, but an ellipse. This means that sometimes the moon is closer to the earth, and at other times it is farther away. A super moon occurs during its “perigee”, the point when the moon is closest to earth. At this point closest to earth, the moon will often appear 30 percent larger and 14 percent brighter when compared to the moon at it’s farthest point from earth. This is referred to as a “super moon”.

The “wolf moon” comes from the fact that this lunar eclipse coincides with the first full moon of the year. Folklore states that wolves start howling outside villages around the first of the new year, especially during a full moon, hence the term “wolf moon”.

What will make this year’s eclipse particularly visual is the fact that it will show up reddish, hence the term “blood moon”. This reddish hue comes from earth’s shadow being draped over the full moon. With this being both a super moon and a blood moon, sky watchers should get an extra vivid look at the moon before, during, and after the eclipse.

Will I need eye protection?
Not for this eclipse! Unlike a solar eclipse, where eye protection is necessary to prevent damage from the more direct and intense solar rays, a lunar eclipse can be viewed by the naked eye.