What's This Weekend's 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' All About, Anyway?

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - 10:37AM
Moon
Space Imagery
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - 10:37AM
What's This Weekend's 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' All About, Anyway?
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Adapted from Pixabay
If you're seeing news of the upcoming super-blood-wolf-moon-apocalypse and thinking to yourself, "wait, didn't we just have one of these so-called 'once in a lifetime' events? I want my money back!" then you're partially right. Last January, skywatchers were treated to both a Supermoon – a relatively common event (we've got three in 2019) which occurs when a new or full moon coincides with perigeethe moon's closest approach to Earth in its monthly orbit – on New Year's Day and the much-touted Super Blue Blood Moon on the 31st: the first in 150 years. 

The lunar event that everyone seems to be talking about this month is a "Super Blood Wolf Moon," or, in less esoteric terms, a total lunar eclipse of a full Supermoon in January (the full moon in January is called a wolf moon). According to Vox, this cosmic spectacle will be visible in the Americas, as well as parts of Northern Europe and Northwest Africa during the dark hours bridging January 20th and 21st, weather notwithstanding.

The eclipse won't render the Supermoon blood red for the entirety of its cycle, mind you. Accuweather.com reports that the first, or penumbral, portion of the eclipse, which begins at 9:26pm EST, will slowly darken the moon until just before midnight which is when the sanguinary portion of the skyshow really gets underway. As the moon slowly passes under Earth's shadow, it will appear to be a crimson, rust, or burnt pumpkin color for about an hour: probably long enough for our neanderthal ancestors to have freaked out and more than enough time to generate ridiculous tabloid headlines like "Blood Moon Bible meaning: Is the Super Blood Wolf Moon a sign of END TIMES?" in Britain's legendary Daily Express.

Fear not, however. The eclipse will end at around 1243am EST on January 21st, after which time the moon will slowly return to its indifferent lunar gray color. If you miss this event due to inclement weather or hiding under your nearest church pew, be advised that the next total lunar eclipse won't be until May 26, 2021. 



Science
Astronomy
Moon
Space Imagery
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