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Lunar Eclipse 2019: A 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is coming, here's how to catch it


New Delhi, Jan 6: Stargazers around the world will be treated to a lunar eclipse that some are calling the "super blood wolf moon."

Representational Image

A simultaneous total lunar eclipse and a "supermoon" will take place on the night of January 20 into the morning of Jan. 21. During the event, the moon will appear red-colored and slightly larger than usual for about an hour.

What is Super blood wolf moon?

Super blood wolf moon name is based on the eclipse's timing and the moon's position relative to Earth. Total lunar eclipses make the moon look orange-red because of the effect that Earth's atmosphere has on the sunlight that passes through it, which is why they are often called blood moons. Full moons that occur in January are known as "wolf moons" (each month gets its own full-moon name), and this one will appear especially bright and big because the moon will be a little closer to Earth than normal - hence the label "super."

A Lunar Trifecta

Blood moon: When the moon, Earth, and sun perfectly align so that the entire moon is shielded from the sun's rays, wayward beams of sunlight filter through Earth's atmosphere, coloring the moon a fiery red and resulting in a total eclipse. The moon takes on a reddish tint, hence, it is known as a "blood moon." The brightness of the red glow depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the Earth's atmosphere. More dust can make the moon look a darker red.

Supermoon: This month's full moon will also be especially close to Earth, making it a so-called supermoon. Full moons can occur at any point along the Moon's elliptical path, but when a full moon occurs at or near the perigee (closest distance to Earth), it looks slightly larger and brighter than a typical full moon. That's what the term "supermoon" refers to. During a supermoon, the brightness of the moon can increase up to 30 percent, according to NASA. At its largest, it can appear 14% larger in diameter than the smallest full moon.

Wolf moon: The full moon phenomenon in January has long been known as the "Wolf Moon". It was named so by Native Americans and medieval Europeans, after the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the midwinter paucity of food.

Together, the trifecta event this January will be known as the 'Super Blood Wolf Moon'.

When and where

Unfortunately, the event will not be visible in most parts of Asia, including India. It can, however, be viewed from across America, western Europe and Africa. It may also be noted that the total lunar eclipse will not take place until May 26, 2021, which certainly a long wait.

According to NASA, the total lunar eclipse will last one hour and two minutes. For those on the US East Coast, the total eclipse will begin around 11:41 p.m. local time with a peak at 12:16 a.m.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon first touches Earth's outer shadow, called a penumbra, then moves into the full shadow, called the umbra. It then goes back into the penumbra.

How to watch

Lunar eclipses are among the easiest sky-watching events to observe. Simply go out and look up if this month's lunar eclipse is visible in your area. You will not need any special equipment or telescopes.

When is the next total lunar eclipse?

You might want to mark your calendar for January's lunar event, because it will be the last total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021.

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