It will be the last Super Blood Moon we see until 2033.
So exactly what is happening this Sunday night and early Monday morning? Some are calling it the "Super Blood Wolf Moon," others a “Blood Moon” or even "The Great American Lunar Eclipse."
What's actually happening is a total lunar eclipse, a spectacular event that sees the full moon enter Earth's shadow and turn an entrancing reddish color. It will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from North America until 2021, and the last Super Blood Moon until 2033.
What is a Super Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse?
It's a full moon, a supermoon, and a total lunar eclipse all rolled into one. A full moon happens once every month. Nothing unusual about that. A supermoon is when our satellite is at the point in its monthly orbit when it’s closest to Earth, so it appears a little larger in the sky. There are about two or three supermoon full moons each year. However, a total lunar eclipse is much rarer, although there have been a few lately. Caused by the Earth being exactly between the sun and moon, this is the spectacle during which the full moon will lose it brightness and turn a reddish/copper color (hence the “Blood Moon” moniker) for an hour or so. It's an impressive sight.
Didn't we just have a Blood Moon?
This total lunar eclipse is the third inside a year, but don't let that put you off. Last January some of North America saw a "Super Blue Blood Moon" total lunar eclipse, which was followed in July by the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. However, it wasn't possible to see it from North America. This third total lunar eclipse — and the last until 2021 — is by far the easiest to observe from North America, with the spectacle being high in the sky from start to finish. It’s also at a very convenient time.
How does a total lunar eclipse work?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is between the sun and moon, which can only happen during a full moon. Just occasionally the moon enters the Earth's shadow, changing color as it does. First, it loses its brightness, then becomes half-lit by the sun, and half-lit by sunlight coming through the Earth's atmosphere. It becomes reddish on one side and bright white on the other, but unlike a crescent moon that's curved, this moon is split by an almost straight line — Earth's shadow. It's a bizarre sight. Then comes totality when the whole of the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, and its surface becomes completely colored. Totality is the key moment, though it will last for 62 minutes.
When is totality in North America?
A total lunar eclipse can only be seen at night, though when it happens, the entire night-side of Earth — half the planet — can see it. On Jan. 20, 2019, that means everyone in North and South America, and in Western Europe (including London, Paris, Lisbon, Spain, and the Canary Islands), can witness the moon turn reddish during an hour-long totality. Here's when to look at totality at cities across North America according to timeanddate.com, though it's worth getting into position about 70 minutes before the eclipse to watch the partial eclipse. Totality will begin at these local times and last for 62 minutes.
Los Angeles, CA – 8:41 p.m.
Chicago, IL – 10:41 p.m.
Houston, TX – 10:41 p.m.
Phoenix, AZ – 9:41 p.m.
Philadelphia, PA – 11:41 p.m.
New York City – 11:41 p.m.
Toronto, Canada – 11:41 p.m.
Vancouver, Canada – 8:41 p.m.
Mexico City, Mexico – 10:41 p.m.
Honolulu, Hawaii – 6:41 p.m.
When is totality in Western Europe and South America?
The total lunar eclipse will be visible from South America and Western Europe after midnight on Monday, Jan. 21, though in some places it will be relatively low on the western horizon. Here is when the total eclipse begins, though for the best view, observers should get outside an hour before these times to see the moon gradually turn red.
London, United Kingdom – 4:41 a.m.
Paris, France – 5:41 a.m.
Amsterdam, Netherlands – 5:41 a.m.
Oslo, Norway – 5:41 a.m.
Stockholm, Sweden – 5:41 a.m.
Lisbon, Portugal – 4:41 a.m.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands – 4:41 a.m.
Sao Paolo, Brazil – 2:41 a.m.
Buenos Aires, Argentina – 1:41 a.m.
Santiago, Chile – 1:41 a.m.
When is the next total lunar eclipse?
The next total lunar eclipse visible from North America will be on May 26, 2021. There is a partial lunar eclipse on July 16, 2019, but it’s only visible in Europe, Africa, and Asia. During that event, the moon will pass through the edge of Earth's shadow and turn half-red. There will be no totality, but it will still be a terrific time to photograph or observe the full moon. The next time a Super Moon coincides with a total lunar eclipse for a Super Blood Moon will be on Oct. 8, 2033.