Lunar Eclipse Lands Sunday Night

The eclipse will occur between 9:30 p.m. CST Jan. 20 and 12:50 a.m. CST Jan. 21. The moon will be totally immersed in Earth's shadow – appearing red, also known as a "blood moon” – between 10:41 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. CST.

“The moon will enter the Earth’s shadow during the first hour, and it will look like a bite has been taken out of the full moon,” Hartigan said. “Once fully inside the shadow, the moon usually appears as a dull red color because if you were on the moon you'd simultaneously see all the red sunrises and sunsets on the Earth as sunlight bends through the Earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon. The last hour is the reverse of the first hour as the moon exits the Earth's shadow.”

People won’t need any special equipment to see the eclipse, though it can look interesting magnified in binoculars or a telescope, Hartigan said. “A lunar eclipse is a fun event the whole family can enjoy and gives a nice connection to the natural world. Sitting out in a lawn chair in the back yard is a fine way to experience it.”

Hartigan said this lunar eclipse is special for a few reasons:

It occurs at a convenient time of the evening (before midnight) for U.S. observers.

The moon's diameter appears 6 percent larger than normal, a so-called super moon. About one-quarter of all full moons are super moons. This is not a big effect, but it's nice to have and you might enjoy it.

The total phase is reasonably long, so you don't have to worry much about missing it. It can be just as much fun to watch the partial phases as to look at the total.  Hartigan said the next total lunar eclipse visible from the U.S. will occur on May 26, 2021. “But that one only has 15 minutes of totality and occurs at 5 a.m. There is one similar to this one on May 16, 2022. But after that, if you want a super moon total eclipse visible in the early evening from the U.S., you'll have to wait until Oct. 30, 2050.”

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