The Super Blood Wolf Moon is at our door.
This lunar phenomenon with a quirky name will be visible Sunday night across the country, for those without cloud cover.
It’ll be an unmissable event for American stargazers, since it’s the only lunar eclipse that will be seen over the United States all year, according to Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a NASA partner.
“Super blood moon” is a term given to lunar eclipses that occur when the moon is at its closest to Earth, making it appear bigger in the sky — a “super moon.” And during a lunar eclipse, when the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, it turns red. That’s because it’s mostly red light that bends around the Earth, while blue light is scattered by the atmosphere, making it appear blue.
Last January, a Super Blue Blood Moon captivated people across the country. That one got the “blue moon” moniker because it was the second full moon of the month, a rare occurrence that gave us the phrase “once in a blue moon.”
Sunday’s moon is the first of January, and it’s referred to as a wolf moon because of Native American folklore, according to Space.com. Each month’s full moon had a name, and January’s came from the packs of wolves that would howl outside Algonquin villages. Other full moon names include the worm moon (March) strawberry moon (June), and harvest moon (September).
Viewing this weekend’s Super Wolf Blood Moon might require a later bedtime.
The moon will begin to darken at 9:36 p.m. ET, but it will dramatically change color about an hour later, at 10:33 p.m. ET, when it moves into the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, according to JPL. That’s what’s called a total eclipse. Because the moon is closer to Earth, it may appear darker than in other lunar eclipses.
That phase of the eclipse lasts until 1:50 a.m. ET, and the moon will completely exit the penumbra, the Earth’s partial shadow, by 2:48 ET.
After that, it’ll be a long wait for the next lunar eclipse that will be visible in North America. It’s coming on July 5, 2020, according to NASA, and it will only be a partial eclipse. The next total lunar eclipse is coming to our skies on May 26, 2021.