What to Know
- Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America.
- It was also the year's first Super Blood Wolf Moon.
- The next total lunar eclipse is coming to our skies on May 26, 2021.
The only total lunar eclipse this year and next came with a supermoon bonus.
On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America, where skies were clear. There won’t be another until 2021.
It was also the year's first Super Blood Wolf Moon. "Super blood moon" is a term given to lunar eclipses that occur when the moon is at its closest to Earth, making it appear bigger in the sky — a "super moon." And during a lunar eclipse, when the moon is in the Earth's shadow, it turns red. That's because it's mostly red light that bends around the Earth, while blue light is scattered by the atmosphere, making it appear blue.
The entire eclipse took more than three hours. Totality — when the moon’s completely bathed in Earth’s shadow — lasted an hour. During a total lunar eclipse, the eclipsed, or blood, moon turns red from sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere.
Besides the Americas, the entire lunar extravaganza could be observed, weather permitting, all the way across the Atlantic to parts of Europe.
Last January, a Super Blue Blood Moon captivated people across the country. That one got the "blue moon" moniker because it was the second full moon of the month, a rare occurrence that gave us the phrase "once in a blue moon."
Sunday's moon is the first of January, and it's referred to as a wolf moon because of Native American folklore, according to Space.com. Each month's full moon had a name, and January's came from the packs of wolves that would howl outside Algonquin villages. Other full moon names include the worm moon (March) strawberry moon (June), and harvest moon (September).
The moon began to darken at 9:36 p.m. ET, but it dramatically changed color about an hour later, at 10:33 p.m. ET, when it moved into the darkest part of Earth's shadow, called the umbra, according to JPL. That's what's called a total eclipse. Because the moon is closer to Earth, it may have appeared darker than in other lunar eclipses.
That phase of the eclipse lasts until 1:50 a.m. ET, and the moon will completely exit the penumbra, the Earth's partial shadow, by 2:48 ET.
After that, it'll be a long wait for the next lunar eclipse that will be visible in North America. It's coming on July 5, 2020, according to NASA, and it will only be a partial eclipse. The next total lunar eclipse is coming to our skies on May 26, 2021.