CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KGAN) - A spectacular event will take place in the night sky Sunday Jan. 20 into Jan. 21 across the Americas. Referred to as the 'Super Blood Wolf Moon,' a lunar eclipse which turns our moon blood red will coincide with the 'Wolf Moon,' the name given to the full moon in the month of January.
Additionally, the January 2019 eclipse also occurs when the full moon is near the closest point in its orbit to the Earth, earning the title of "super moon." Basically it'll be a little larger than normal. This plays a role in the eclipse as well as the moon will be a little darker than a typical lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipses are easy to look at and do not need any type of special equipment to view safely. The event covers entire continents so travel is not necessary unless clouds are in the forecast. The only issue is that this eclipse is late at night, and being January, onlookers might need to bundle up.
The show does not really start until 9:33 p.m. CST, that's when the moon enters the umbral shadow marking the beginning of the partial eclipse.
Between 9:33 p.m. and 10:41 p.m. CST, the moon's surface will progressively go from a full moon all the way to nothing. Close to 10:41 p.m., observers will notice the moon will begin to turn more red in color. Then, for a full hour and two minutes, the moon will reside completely in the shadow of the Earth, staying red the entire time.
The moon will begin to leave Earth's shadow starting at 11:43 p.m. CST and will once again become a bright, full moon at 12:50 a.m.
Lunar eclipses do not happen with every full moon due to the fact the moon's orbit is tilted in respect to the Earth. But, about twice a year, everything lines up perfectly to put on a stunning show for someone on our planet.
The "blood" red color occurs due to sunlight being scattered by particles in Earth's atmosphere, the same process that creates colorful sunrises and sunsets seen on Earth.
The last 'blood moon' in the United States occurred in January 2018, but due to its timing, much of the country didn't get to see the event in full. The last great lunar eclipse in North America was 2015.