By the Numbers: Super blood wolf moon eclipse

Jan. 21 at 12:12 a.m marks the optimal time to view the lunar eclipse and a unique opportunity to catch a rare astronomical event.

the moon shown in various phases across a black sky, the last phase is colored dark red

Winter nights are usually best spent tucked up indoors. But just 12 minutes after midnight Sunday, there will be plenty of reason to put on a warm coat and venture outside: A rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of a super blood wolf moon eclipse. 

Unlike a solar eclipse, like the one that happened in August of 2017, a lunar eclipse occurs when Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. The Moon is completely blocked by Earth’s shadow for a period of time known as the totality, causing it to disappear from view. 

There’s no need for special eye protection during this nighttime event, but in order to see Monday’s eclipse there will need to be clear skies and good visibility. It’s also the only lunar eclipse that will happen this year. There will be a solar eclipse in July 2019, but this will only be visible from the Southern Hemisphere. 

Here are some key facts and figures to help with preparations for the upcoming blood wolf moon eclipse:

    • Jan. 21, 12:12 a.m. EST

      The time of the maximal lunar eclipse, or when the Moon will be at the central point of the totality.

    • 1 hour and 3 minutes

      How long the total eclipse will last. At around 9:30 p.m. EST on Sunday night, a small but noticeable section of the Moon will no longer be visible, which will mark the start of the eclipse. The totality will begin at 11:41 p.m. EST and will end at 12:44 EST on Monday morning. The Moon will then shift into a partial eclipse before it will appear “full-sized” again at around 2:50 a.m. EST.

    • 1

      This lunar eclipse coincides with the first full Moon of 2019. A full Moon occurring in January is colloquially known as the “Wolf Moon.” 

      Each of the year’s full Moons has a different name that stems from traditions around the world. Moons are named according to the weather, animals, and plants that ancient civilizations connected to that time of year. 

      January’s “Wolf Moon” is linked to both Native American and medieval European legends and stories that connect this dark and cold time of year to visions of howling packs of wolves roaming across snow-covered landscapes. 

    • 222,274 miles

      Approximately how far the Moon will be from Earth on Monday. A supermoon is a new or full Moon that coincides with the point at which the Moon is closer than normal to Earth during its orbit. 

      The farthest away that the Moon will be from Earth is around 252,622 miles. This extra 30,000 miles closer means that the full Moon will look larger and brighter than a normal full Moon does. 

    • 700-635 nanometers

      The wavelength of the red light that will give the super wolf moon an eery red glow. When the Moon is completely in Earth’s shadow, light from the sun is bent around Earth. This causes the sun’s light to become stretched into longer wavelengths that appear red in color.  

      It’s the same effect that occurs during sunset, when the bending of light due to Earth’s curvature only allows the red and orange light waves to be visible along the horizon. The amount of pollution and particulates in the air can also affect how red the Moon will appear.

    • 6°F

      The predicted low temperature for Philadelphia on Sunday night. Precipitation and cloudy skies are predicted for most of the weekend, but skies should become clearer during the early hours of Monday morning. 

    • 865

      The number of days until the next total eclipse of the Moon. This event will happen on May 26, 2021, but the totality will only be visible in eastern Australia or New Zealand. To avoid an unnecessary trip to the Southern Hemisphere, it’s best to dress warmly and hope for clear skies in order to see Monday’s eclipse.