Total lunar eclipse set to wow star gazers, clear skies willing

Partial lunar eclipse on Sunday Jan. 20 2019

Partial lunar eclipse on Sunday Jan. 20 2019

The most recent total lunar eclipse took place January 31, 2018, but its totality occurred around moonset, Kanipe said, so the moon would have been very low in the west around 5:30 a.m. Lunar eclipses are dramatic events when viewed from here on Earth.

The total eclipse ends Monday at 12:43 a.m., and we are in prime position to see the entire event, concluding when the partial ends Monday at 1:50 a.m.

Partial lunar eclipses also often take place, in which the Earth only obscures part of the sun's light from hitting the moon. The term "super" is in reference to the fact that the moon will be near its closest distance to Earth during the eclipse, while the "blood" part is due the reddish color the moon will experience during totality - the moon won't disappear entirely.

And since it appears in January, when wolves howled in hunger outside villages, it has earned the name wolf moon, according to The Farmers Almanac. In essence, what will be seen is a "super blood moon".

This is expected to be the last Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse for the next 18 years, which Arkos said means it's important to step outside and bask in the wonder of the colourful moon.

"We had a total lunar eclipse on January 31, 2018", said Jim Greenhouse, space science director at the museum. "That's about the difference between the largest possible supermoon and the smallest possible moon".

Total lunar eclipse set to wow star gazers, clear skies willing

The next total lunar eclipse won't be until May 2021. The beginning of the total eclipse phase will occur at 11:41 p.m. ET, according to NASA. The Earth's shadow starts moving over the Moon and not easily seen to the naked eye. The type and length of a lunar eclipse depend on the moon's proximity to either node of its orbit.

When the Earth passes in front of the moon, it rapidly causes its surface temperature to drop - causing lunar rocks to suddenly freeze and crack, releasing gas. In total, this event will last a little over 3 hours. As the moon circles the Earth, it does so in an uneven way, as its orbit is inclined by 5 degrees from that of the Earth so it seems to be higher or lower in the sky on different nights.

The only total lunar eclipse of 2019 is on Sunday night. "With this eclipse, our plan is to have telescopes around the museum because you can see it from anywhere as long as the weather is fine".

There are usually about two to four lunar eclipses every year.

The USGS has also said that there may be a correlation between the lunar cycle and eruptions of Hawaiian volcanoes, but that attempting to predict eruptions around tides or the moon "would be absurd".

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