If you are looking for a reason to stay up past your bedtime that even your parents will agree to, January 20 may be the perfect night.
That night will be the only total lunar eclipse of 2019. It has a special name: the Super Blood Wolf Moon Total Lunar Eclipse. The name sounds impressive, and each part of it has a special meaning.
First, it is a total lunar eclipse. This means the sun, moon and Earth are perfectly lined up and the moon passes through Earth’s shadow.
A total lunar eclipse is also called a blood moon, because the shadow makes the moon look reddish in the night sky.
This year’s total lunar eclipse is also called a “super” eclipse because the moon will be at its perigee. This means it is as close to the Earth as it gets during the course of the year. Because the moon is so close to Earth, it looks bigger in the sky.
The last part of the name, the wolf moon, is what we call the first full moon of the year. It is named for wolves because they howl more in the cold winter months.
A total lunar eclipse happens over several hours, so there isn’t one magic moment to wait for. If skies are clear, all of North America will have good viewing. The eclipse will begin at 8:36 p.m. January 20 and end at 1:48 a.m. January 21. The full eclipse begins at 10:41 p.m. and ends at 11:43 p.m.
Between two and four lunar eclipses occur each year. But not all of them are total lunar eclipses. The only other lunar eclipse of 2019 will be a partial lunar eclipse on July 16. But it will not be visible in much of the United States.
January 20 will be an excellent chance to watch a total lunar eclipse in our area. This is especially true because the next time North America will be so well positioned for seeing one will not be until May 2022.