Heads-up for Sunday, a super 'blood moon' is on the way

The phenomenon happens when the moon is full at the same time as or very near perigee- its closest point to Earth on an elliptical monthly orbit. It was the closest to Earth since

The phenomenon happens when the moon is full at the same time as or very near perigee- its closest point to Earth on an elliptical monthly orbit. It was the closest to Earth since

If weather cooperates, people all over the Western Hemisphere on Sunday will be able to see a "super blood moon" eclipse. For a shadow, it will be quite bright: Before a potential audience of almost three billion people, the moon will gradually transform into a glowing copper-colored orb, tinted by sunlight bouncing off and passing through the air in our planet's dense atmosphere. At the same time, the moon will be ever so closer to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual - a supermoon.

Christian conspiracy theorists are claiming that as result of the spectacular lunar display, Christ will appear on Earth and herald in the end of days.

During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon can turn an orangey red. Popularly known as a "blood moon", these are relatively rare events, though this is the third of three in the a year ago.

No equipment is needed to view the event, with the naked eye more than enough to watch the impressive celestial event. There's another storm expected Sunday raising the possibility that the eclipse could be eclipsed by clouds. The subsequent umbral phase - when the Earth's shadow covers most of the moon - will occur for another hour. The entire eclipse lasts for more than five hours, ending at 7:48am.

How long will the total lunar eclipse last?

On the evening of Sunday, January 20, the most stunning celestial light show over the continental USA will actually be a shadow-the Earth's, in fact, sweeping across the nearside of the moon in a total lunar eclipse. Instead of reflecting sunlight as the Moon would have done at any other point, the Earth casts a shadow on the satellite. There's no actually wolf connection to the moon here.

It will be easy to watch the eclipse, since the moon will be high in the sky, said Don Ficken, a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society.

"The red light continues on its journey from the sun and passes through our atmosphere and shines upon the moon", he said.

The fact that it will be a super moon is because the moon's perigree, or closest approach, technically occurs at 2:59 p.m. Monday, when it's only 222,042 miles away.

Yes, there will be a full moon on January 20, according to Woody Sullivan, University of Washington astronomer and professor emeritus. Brutally cold air will arrive later Sunday into Monday night. At 12:43 a.m. EST Monday (Jan. 21), the moon will poke itself out of the umbra and into the penumbra; and at 1:50 a.m. EST (10:50 p.m. PST, Jan. 20), it will have totally left the umbra.

At 9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, the moon will start to creep into the part of Earth's shadow known as the penumbra. "In Native American and early Colonial times, the full moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon".

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