Next Sunday night, sky conditions permitting, we will be in for a real astronomical treat.
A total lunar eclipse lasting 62 minutes will be visible on the night of Jan. 20-21 across North and South America, including throughout the United States and parts of western Europe and Africa.
The Wolf Moon — a full moon in January — will be a “super blood moon” that reveals a vivid reddish tint for a couple of hours, centered around midnight.
The coppery coloration or cast is due to the bending of some sunlight (refraction) around the fringes of Earth, causing shorter-wavelength light to be scattered by the atmosphere while leaving us with longer-wavelength red-orange-yellow beams.
A total lunar eclipse requires the sun, earth and moon to fall to be perfectly aligned, placing the entire moon in Earth’s dark interior shadow (umbra), an event that we will not witness again until May 2021, according to NASA.
On Jan. 31, 2018, we were captivated by a rare “super blue blood moon” seen from the U.S. for the first time since 1866.