An incredibly rare celestial event is set to happen next week, and with a name like ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’, it’s bound to be awesome.
On January 20-21, a Wolf Moon, Blood Moon, and Supermoon are all set to converge to create an impressive total lunar eclipse, and as you’ve probably guessed, their names were also combined to give the event its epic title.
In case you’re not well versed in these particular celestial events, I’ll explain them for you.
A total lunar eclipse only occurs during a full Moon, and only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned, causing the darkest part of Earth’s shadow to completely blanket the Moon.
A Wolf Moon is pretty simple – it’s the first full Moon of a new year, which this year falls on the night of January 20.
A Blood Moon is caused when the Earth’s shadow completely covers the Moon and gives the impression its surface has turned red, as it falls into the shade of our planet.
Obviously the name ‘Red Moon’ wasn’t dramatic enough, so whoever was in charge of naming the event decided to opt for a more menacing description, basically implying the Moon turns into blood for the night.
According to AFP, Walter Freeman, an assistant teaching professor at Syracuse University’s physics department, explained how a Blood Moon occurs:
A little bit of sunlight is refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere and reaches the Moon, bending around the edges of the Earth.
This small amount of red light still illuminates the Moon enough for us to see it. Instead of being bright and white, the Moon will be very dim and red, 10,000 or so times dimmer than usual.
A Supermoon is when the Moon is slightly closer to the Earth, causing it to appear brighter than usual.
This year, all three of these events fall on the same night, creating the impressive Super Blood Wolf Moon.
Though our visibility is really in the hands of clouds, spectators in Great Britain, Ireland, North and South America, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and the French and Spanish coasts should all be able to see the eclipse.
Those in Africa and the rest of Europe should get a partial view of the event, while Asia, Australia and New Zealand will unfortunately miss the spectacle.
Ha! It might be warm and sunny in Australia, but they don’t get to see the spectacular Super Blood Wolf Moon. Though, to be honest, I think I’d still rather avoid the cold and be in Australia.
Viewers in the UK will have to have an early morning if they hope to catch a glimpse of the astronomical event, as the peak of the eclipse will occur at approximately 5:43am on Monday, January 21, though the total eclipse is expected to last just over an hour.
Thankfully no complicated glasses or equipment are needed to watch the event; it’s perfectly safe to stare at the Moon for as long as you wish without damaging your eyes.
According to CNBC, Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan has assured astronomy-lovers that this event will be worth watching, saying:
This one is particularly good. It not only is a supermoon and it’s a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long. It’s about an hour.
Those in the UK won’t be able to experience another total lunar eclipse in its entirety until 2029, so don’t miss out!
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