A total lunar eclipse is exciting enough. Stop throwing more adjectives on it that don’t mean anything. The ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ phrase that a lot of people are throwing around is silly. Just enjoy the total lunar eclipse coming January 20/21 without trying to make it seem any more mysterious than it is. Alright, I’ll let Gizmodo take over my rant from here.
The gist of January’s total lunar eclipse
The good news for folks living in North and South America is the entire eclipse will be visible late January 20 and early January 21. And unlike 2017’s total solar eclipse, you’ll have plenty of time to view it. The moon will sit in Earth’s complete shadow for just over an hour.
During the hour, the moon will take on a reddish/coppery hue. While the moon sits completely in Earth’s shadow, our atmosphere bends sunlight with the longer wavelengths of light (red and orange) bending far enough inward to shine onto the moon. When you gaze up on January 20, you’ll be seeing the light from sunrises and sunsets all over the world shining on the moon’s face.
National Geographic put together a short, but fantastic video showing how the refracting sunlight works during a total lunar eclipse.
As for the ‘supermoon’ moniker? That comes from the fact the moon will be close to perigee (or the closest point to Earth during its orbit, the opposite is apogee). While it does appear slightly bigger than your average full moon, most of us can’t really tell. But we can notice the bump in brightness. Supermoons appear about 30% brighter compared to a regular full moon at apogee (furthest point in its orbit).
While the total lunar eclipse will look great for a lot of us, there are some places where the view will be a little more special. If you can make it to a spot where the eclipse is visible at moonrise or moonset, you can take advantage of the ‘moon illusion.’ We’ve all seen a full moon rising over the horizon that looks much bigger than it does when it’s high in the sky. That’s a trick our eyes and brain are playing on us.
I’m crossing my fingers all this rain in Alabama will calm down long enough to get a clear night or two.
Here’s a handy website that’ll tell you exactly when the total lunar eclipse begins and ends where you live.