A total lunar eclipse will take place later this month, the first in six months. A total lunar eclipse is when the Earth is located directly between the Sun and the Moon and the Moon is then in the shadow of the Earth. All three celestial bodies need to be in a direct line for this to happen.
This alignment means that the Moon passes through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra.
Below are six things you need to know about this month’s total lunar eclipse.
1. It takes place in the early hours of January 21, 2019
The total lunar eclipse will take part in the early hours of Monday, January 21.
The eclipse begins at 2.36am (GMT) and reaches its maximum eclipse at 5.12am. It then ends at 7.48am.
2. It is visible from the UK, North America, South America and parts of West and North Europe.
In the UK, those wishing to wake up early to catch the eclipse will be able to see every stage.
The best viewing time will be between 4.41am and 5.43am.
The rest of Europe and Africa will be able to witness the end of the eclipse
3. The January moon is known as the Wolf moon making this eclipse the Super Blood Wolf Moon
January’s Moon is also referred to as a wolf moon, and this name comes from Native American origins.
Wolves are particularly vocal in January, to communicate with pack mates.
Mating season begins for wolves in February, so howling in January helps locate the pack and signals the beginning of the season.
4. A total lunar eclipse is also a Blood Moon
When the Moon is entirely in the Earth’s shadow during the total lunar eclipse, it can also appear an eerie red colour.
This colour is due to light refraction, when during the eclipse dust in the atmosphere blocks blue light waves, but allows red hues to pass through.
The moon can vary in colour from red to a coppery orange colour.
5. Why this month’s eclipse is a so-called Super Moon
The eclipse this month is not only a Blood Wolf Moon but a Super Moon as well.
A Super Moon occurs when a full moon is close to or at perigee - the Moon’s closest point to the Earth on its orbit.
The Moon appears larger, earning it the name ’Super Moon’.
6. Eclipses in 2019
This year there are six eclipses, one of which has already taken place.
- January 5-6: Partial Solar Eclipse
- January 20-21: Total Lunar Eclipse
- July 2: Total Solar Eclipse
- July 16-17: Partial Lunar Eclipse
- November 11: Mercury Transit
- December 26: Annular Solar Eclipse