January 2019 lunar eclipse: How to watch the super blood wolf moon eclipse

Kellie Hwang

Technically, next month's lunar event could be called a super blood wolf moon eclipse

Starting Jan. 20, a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon, that coincides with a supermoon, will be visible throughout the United States. The event starts late in the evening Jan. 20 and finishes during the wee hours of Jan. 21. 

After that, you have to wait until May 26, 2021, for the next total lunar eclipse. Typically, each year has two lunar eclipses with total lunar eclipses about every two years, Brian Murphy, director of the Holcomb Observatory & Planetarium and Butler University professor. 

"They aren't technically rare," he said. "In clear weather, half the earth can see it."

► July 27: Here's where today's lunar eclipse will be visible. Sorry, not in the USA
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This time, Asia, Australia, India and many of the Pacific islands close to Asia will miss out.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes fully into the shadow of Earth. A supermoon is the time of month when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit. Plus, this will be the first full moon of the year, also known as a wolf moon. 

Starting at 9:36 p.m. EST Jan. 20, viewers will notice a "little notch is sort of taken out of the moon," Murphy said.

"The moon starts to enter into the earth's shadow in a portion called the umbra when the sun is totally blocked out," he said. "Earth is moving from right to left through the shadow."

At 10:33 p.m., it moves into a partial eclipse, and starting at 11:41 p.m., the full eclipse begins, with a maximum eclipse at 12:12 a.m. Jan. 21

"You'll notice the stars are much more visible because the moon is less than 100th the amount of brightness," Murphy said.

The moon will appear to be a "reddish copper color," Murphy said, hence the name blood moon. Some sunlight reaches the earth's atmosphere, which envelops the moon and gives it the rich color. The full eclipse ends at 12:43 a.m. 

Cross your fingers for a clear sky though even some clouds would be OK, Murphy said.

"I'm hoping have at least broken clouds,"  he said. "When we get into December and January, it tends to be cloudy 40 or 60 percent of the time" in the middle of the continent.

► December 2017: First supermoon of 2018 falls on New Year's Day
► August 2017: 'Coolest thing ever': Eclipse awes millions as it crosses USA

Murphy recommends people go to their own backyards to view the event and try to get away from any street lights, especially blue light. Between 11:40 p.m. and 12:43 a.m., during the total eclipse, is when the reddish orange color will be most visible, he said. 

Unlike a solar eclipse, you don't need special equipment to view a lunar eclipse or shield your eyes. It is spectacular entirely on its own, Murphy said. 

If you want to snap any photos of the blood moon, you might have some luck shooting a picture through binoculars or a telescope. Murphy said it's also a great time to view stars, as they will be brighter and clearer.

Follow Kellie Hwang on Twitter: @KellieHwang

Details

• Begins: 9:36 p.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 20

• Ends: 2:48 a.m. Monday, Jan. 21 

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This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: January 2019 lunar eclipse: How to watch the super blood wolf moon eclipse