If you're someone whose moonlight is a bit red, you probably have
A.) Never approached this on a first date, and
B.) had circled January 21 for some time on your calendar.
This evening, Skywatchers in North and South America are confronted with a rare lunar eclipse that coincides with a supermond. As a whole, the lunar surface appears in a red, reddish color that lends this particular celestial event the catchy nickname "Super Blood Moon".
Why does all this happen and why is it worthwhile for this special special event? Keep reading while we shed some light on the science behind this beautiful eerie phenomenon.
What exactly is a lunar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse of July 2018 over Lake Wendouree in Victoria, Australia. This is Mars, which shines brightly at the top of the frame to the left of the eclipse. (Photo: Ed Dunens / Flickr)
A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth, which is closely aligned between the sun and the moon, casts its considerable shadow on the lunar surface. Unlike a total solar eclipse, the shadow of the earth is much wider when the Moonshade (or Umbra) completely blocks the sun for just a few minutes. Subsequently, lunar eclipses can unfold over a longer period of time.
When does the solar eclipse begin?
This month's event starts at 21:36. EST on the 20th of January and end at 3:48 on the 21st of January. The entirety, the point where the lunar surface will be completely covered by the shadow of the earth, will last for over an hour and start at 12:41. In other words, you should have enough time to dive your head out and in To catch a piece of lunar eclipse!
Who will see it?
North and South America will have a first place eclipse for the month's total moon. (Photo: NASA)
Lunar eclipses are generally visible to at least half of the planet. Last year, the eastern hemisphere in the front row had the longest total lunar eclipse of this century (with a total duration of nearly two hours!) In this century. This time throughout North and South America as well as in parts of Western Europe and Northwest Africa. will see the big event in January.
What makes this supermond eclipse so special?
While lunar eclipses are not exactly rare – 87 will occur during the course of the 21st century – only 26 will occur during a super moon. A supermond is the name for a full moon or new moon that is closest to Earth (about 238,000 miles). The so-called Perigee makes the moon 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon.
What makes the moon red?
The phases of a lunar eclipse. (Photo: Christian Gloor / Flickr)
Unlike our own shadows, Earth's estimated 870,000 miles of earth have a reddish red hue. This is because indirect sunlight is broken by the thick atmosphere of the earth. As the shorter wavelengths are scattered, the longer red wavelengths penetrate and are thrown onto the moon. As NASA explains, the color you see is essentially the culmination of every sunset and sunrise on Earth at the same time.
"You might think that the earth above us would be completely dark, finally you look at the night side of our planet, instead something amazing happens, when the sun is directly behind the earth, the edge of the planet seems to catch fire! The dark earth disk is suddenly surrounded by every sunrise and sunset in the world, this light penetrates the heart of the Earth's shadow and shines in a coppery glow. "
The lunar surface reflects this reddish color back to Earth, creating the eerie glow of red moonlight.
Why is it called the super-blood "Wolf Moon"?
Each full moon in the calendar year carries corresponding nicknames from different cultures around the world. For Native Americans, the full moon of January is called "Wolf Moon in recognition of the wolves who would be hungry outside their villages." Other names include the ice moon and the cold moon, and where warmer months prevail in the southern hemisphere, the thunderstorm.
Do I need special glasses to see the eclipse?
While solar eclipses require special goggles to see for sure, you are fortunate not to suffer burnt retinas while looking at a lunar eclipse. Moonlight, even the reddish red variant, is harmless to the human eye.
The Super Blood Moon Eclipse is coming
Skywatchers in North and South America are being treated with a Super Blood Moon, a rare lunar eclipse that coincides with a supermond.