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What is a super blood wolf moon? The upcoming lunar eclipse, explained

The astronomical event will be visible from NYC on Sunday night if skies are clear.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun

A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun and moon align on either side of the Earth. Photo Credit: NASA

The only total lunar eclipse and super blood wolf moon of the year will happen Sunday night, and if skies are clear, New Yorkers will be able to witness the astronomical event.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth and a full moon align on the same plane, causing the moon to pass through the Earth’s shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, you won't need special glasses to watch it. 

But what makes this eclipse a super blood wolf moon? Scroll down to find out. 

Why is it called a super blood wolf moon?

A total lunar eclipse is also known as a blood moon because of the way the surface looks in Earth's shadow. But this particular eclipse also is falling on the same night as a supermoon and a wolf moon.

Here's a breakdown of the unique combination of lunar events:

Super: The moon is considered a supermoon because it will be at its closest point to Earth on its current elliptical orbit.

Blood: The moon will appear to turn slightly red as it passes through Earth’s shadow. This happens because of the way light is absorbed and reflected in Earth's atmosphere. 

Wolf: The first full moon in January is known as a wolf moon. The name comes from Native Americans, who used different names for each month’s full moon.

What time is the eclipse happening?

Here’s the timeline for the total lunar eclipse, according to NASA:

Jan. 20, 9:36 p.m.: The moon will begin to enter the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra. 

10:33 p.m.: The moon will begin to enter the inner part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. 

11:41 p.m.: The moon will be completely in the umbra, marking the start of the total lunar eclipse. It will begin to turn reddish-orange at this time.

Jan. 21, 12:12 a.m.: The moment of greatest eclipse, when the moon is halfway through the umbra. The red coloring of the moon will be strongest at this time.

12:43 a.m.: The moon will begin exiting the umbra, ending the total lunar eclipse. 

1:50 a.m.: The moon will be completely outside the umbra.

2:48 a.m.: The moon will be completely outside the penumbra.

What’s the forecast for Sunday night?

Though the eclipse will be visible in New York City, cloudy skies could mar your view. The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday night is "partly cloudy," as of Sunday morning.

If you don't want to miss a single second of the eclipse, you can watch a livestream at timeanddate.com.

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