2019 lunar eclipse: 5 things to know about the ‘super blood wolf moon’

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By Denise Chow

This weekend, a total lunar eclipse will give skywatchers a chance to see the moon turn a dull red as it slips into Earth’s shadow.

The eclipse, which will occur overnight on Jan. 20-21, will be the first lunar eclipse of the year and the last total lunar eclipse until 2021. It will be visible in North and South America as well as parts of western Europe and Africa.

January’s full moon is sometimes dubbed a “wolf moon” in the folklore tradition because it occurs at a time of year when hungry wolves howled outside villages. And since the moon will be at its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit around our planet this weekend, it will be a “supermoon.” As a result of these special cases — and because lunar eclipses are also known as “blood moons” — some are calling this eclipse a “super blood wolf moon.”

During a lunar eclipse, sunlight falling on the surface of the moon is blocked by Earth as it passes between the sun and the moon. As the shadow starts to fall on the lunar surface, it looks as if a bite has been taken out of the moon — a phase known as a partial eclipse.

This weekend, the partial eclipse will begin at 10:33 p.m. ET. Totality, when the moon reddens as it slips completely within Earth’s shadow, will follow at 11:41 p.m. ET.

Here are five things to know about the eclipse.

1. Though this will be a supermoon lunar eclipse, you probably won’t be able to tell. Since a supermoon appears only a tiny bit bigger in the night sky than a moon at other points in its orbit, this eclipse won’t appear appreciably different than others.

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