Totality will last a full 63 minutes, with the maximum eclipse—when the moon is at its deepest, most dramatic coloration—occurring at a. How do all of these lunar spectacles work, and how can you catch a glimpse? For thousands of years, lunar eclipses have garnered both awe and fear.
But once science had explained the celestial mechanics at play, astronomers could predict when they will occur and where they will be visible. In a lunar eclipse, Earth casts a shadow on the moon. This doesn't happen every time the moon makes its monthly trek, though; the moon's orbit is tilted, so it usually glides above or below Earth's cone-shaped shadow.
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Total lunar eclipses are even more rare. They happen only during a full moon, and only when the sun, Earth, and moon are precisely aligned so that the darkest part of our planet's shadow completely blankets the lunar disk. This usually happens twice a year, on average, and each total eclipse can be seen from only one hemisphere of Earth. The last total eclipse of the moon occurred on July 27, , and was visible across Africa and parts of Asia. Americans missing this one will have to wait until May 26, , to get their next chance at viewing a blood moon. As a result, expect to see the lunar disk go from a dark gray color during the partial phase of the eclipse to a reddish-orange color during totality.
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The moon's color during totality can vary considerably depending on the amount of dust in the atmosphere at the time. Active volcanoes spewing tons of ash into the upper atmosphere, for instance, can trigger deep blood-red eclipses. However, no one can predict exactly what color we'll see before each eclipse. The moon will be at perigee—its closest point to Earth—just 59 minutes before the height of the eclipse.
This will make the lunar disk appear 13 percent larger and about 16 percent brighter than the average full moon.
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The January supermoon also happens to kick off a triad of supermoons in , with the next ones arriving on February 19 and March Sky-watchers across the entire Western Hemisphere will be able to see all or part of the eclipse. North America, Central America, and South America will get to see all the phases of this special sky show, as the moon rides high in the eastern sky.
Meanwhile, stargazers in western Europe and most of Africa will be able to watch during the early morning hours, local time, on the 21st. Unfortunately, folks in Asia and Australia will be on the wrong side of the planet when the eclipse is under way.
When and how can you see the Super Wolf Blood Moon?
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar ones are safe to watch with the naked eye. But if the sky is too cloudy or you're in the wrong time zone, you can still take part in the lunar disappearing act online: Astronomers Without Borders will webcast the eclipse from various locations starting at p. The closest approach perigee is just , miles , kilometers distant.
A supermoon is a full moon that occurs during that time. So, a super blood moon is an eclipse coinciding with a supermoon.
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That will be subtle, but the shadow should be more visible moving across the surface by ET. At PM Eastern Time, the eclipse will reach totality. This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page.
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