On Sunday, January 20, people in the Western Hemisphere will be able to experience the only total lunar eclipse of 2019—dubbed the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.”
While the name sounds like something written for the fictional series Twilight, each word actually has a significance for the way the lunar event will be seen.
Here’s everything you need to know about the special celestial show.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the event is a total lunar eclipse, but it’s made up of a trifecta of other designations for the moon, which is where the words “blood,” “super” and “wolf” play in. During the total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the sun and the moon, which casts a shadow over the moon. According to the Almanac, total lunar eclipses can be viewed without any eye protection, unlike total solar eclipses.
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The Almanac states the term “blood moon” comes from dark red color that the moon glows when it’s in the Earth’s shadow.
The word “super” is used to designate a “super moon,” which means the full or new Moon is closest to Earth in its orbit, making it appear larger and brighter than usual. However, according to the Almanac, most people won’t be able to spot the difference.
As for the “wolf” description, the term originated from Native American tribes and early colonists to define a full moon that occurs in January.
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The partial eclipse will begin at 10:33 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 20, and will take over 3.5 hours to go through all of its phases, National Geographic reports. According to the Almanac, the moon should be visible to everyone in the Western Hemisphere, but if it’s a cloudy night, people may not be able to see the transformation well.
During the first hour, the Moon will go through different phases, turning orange and red — almost resembling Mars, the Almanac reports.
At 11:41 p.m. EST, totality begins, meaning that the moon should give off the dark red glow it’s famous for, but that can vary based on the atmospheric conditions and may appear in the sky as dark gray with the moon “barely visible.”
The eclipse will last until 12:44 a.m. EST on Monday, January 21, hovering in the highest section of the zodiac.
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This will be the last total lunar eclipse until 2021, and there’s no guarantee the cosmos will align so that the next eclipse will fall during a super moon, so it might be the last time you hear the words, “Super Blood Wolf Moon,” for a while.
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