STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Total lunar eclipse and rare super blood wolf moon bedazzles sky-gazers

Most of the world was able to catch a glimpse of a rare super blood wolf moon during the total lunar eclipse.

Posted: Jan 21, 2019 9:50 AM
Updated: Jan 21, 2019 9:50 AM

It's not every year that a super blood wolf moon happens, so it was worth casting your eyes to the heavens overnight.

Most of the world was able to catch a glimpse of the rare event, but it was especially visible to the populations of North and South America, Europe and Africa.

If you saw the super blood wolf moon and are now wondering what that name even means, here's a breakdown of one of the first skywatching events of 2019.

What's in a name?

Basically, this rare total lunar eclipse happens at the same time as a supermoon. But there's a little more to it than that.

Lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon, and this one was extra special because it was also a supermoon. A supermoon occurs when the moon is full and closest to Earth in orbit.

Overnight, the moon was in perfect alignment with the sun and Earth, with the moon on the opposite side of Earth from the sun.

Earth cast two shadows on the moon during the eclipse. The penumbra was the partial outer shadow, and the umbra was the full, dark shadow.

When the full moon moves into Earth's shadow, it darkens, but it doesn't disappear. Sunlight passing through Earth's atmosphere lights the moon in a dramatic fashion, turning it red.

Depending on weather conditions in your area, it may have appeared rusty, brick-colored or blood-red.

This happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light is the most dominant color highlighted as sunlight passes through our atmosphere and casts it on the moon.

So where does the "wolf" part come in? Each moon has its own name associated with the full moon. In January, it's known as the "wolf moon," inspired by hungry wolves that howled outside of villages long ago, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.

When and where to watch

This unique total lunar eclipse ended early Monday at 1:51 a.m. ET.

"Viewers will see a normal full moon at first starting at around 10:35 p.m. Eastern time," said Walter Freeman, assistant teaching professor at Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences' physics department. "At that time, the Earth's shadow will begin to pass in front of the moon, blocking almost all of the sun's light from reaching it. Observers will see the moon appear to be progressively 'swallowed up' starting from the lower left. This process will end at 11:40 p.m., when the Earth's shadow covers the whole of the moon's surface; this is the beginning of 'totality.' This will last until around 12:40 a.m., when the motion of the Earth's shadow will carry it past the moon, and the moon will gradually again be lit by the sun. At 1:45 a.m., the moon will be fully visible again."

The full eclipse began at 0440 GMT in the UK and appeared red at 0512 GMT, according to the Royal Astronomical Society.

North and South America, Europe and western Africa could see a total lunar eclipse, but eastern Africa and Asia could only observe a partial eclipse. To be even more precise, the Royal Astronomical Society said viewers in northwestern France, northwestern Spain, Portugal, the eastern Pacific and northeastern tip of Russia would see the total eclipse.

The next total lunar eclipse visible in the United States will not occur until 2022. The United States missed out on the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, which happened in July 2018.

But why don't we see total lunar eclipses more often?

"There is a little less than one total lunar eclipse per year on average," Freeman said. "A lunar eclipse can only happen during a full moon, when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. But the moon's orbit is tilted a little bit compared to the Earth's, so usually when the moon is full, the Earth's shadow passes a little bit above or a little bit below it. This is why we don't have a lunar eclipse every month."

Partial eclipses are more common.

The Virtual Telescope Project shared a live stream of the lunar eclipse at its brightest above the skyline of Rome.

And unlike solar eclipses, the lunar eclipse was safe to view with the naked eye or binoculars. It also afforded a unique view of the sky.

"A blood moon is one of the few opportunities we have to see both the moon and the stars in the sky at the same time, since the moon is usually too bright," Freeman said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Mason City
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 90°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 87°
Austin
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 90°
Charles City
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 88°
Hot and sticky fourth of July weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Alternative baseball hopes to come to the Med City in 2021

Image

FOURTH OF JULY IN AUSTIN AND STEWARTVILLE

Image

Seans 6pm Weather 7/4

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Image

Baseball returns to the Med City

Image

Seans 10pm Weather 7/3

Image

Leaders advocate for the homeless

Image

Fireworks Show During the Pandemic

Image

Pillars of the City Unveiled

Community Events