Published: Tue, January 22, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Total lunar eclipse woos sky watchers

Total lunar eclipse woos sky watchers

Stargazers in parts of the United Kingdom under clear skies have been treated to the astronomical spectacle of a "super blood wolf moon". The moon's orbital path around the Earth takes place at an angle of 5 degrees to Earth's orbital plane around the sun, otherwise known as the ecliptic.

Even in Seattle, where the weather forecast wasn't promising, the hours-long progression from supersized full moon to a ruddy darkness and back to lunar brightness unfolded in mostly clear skies.

The full Moon appeared bigger than normal because it was closer to the Earth - about 222,000 miles (358,000 kilometres) away - earning it the nickname "super Moon".

The moon was in flawless alignment with the sun and Earth, with the moon on the opposite side of Earth from the sun. The moniker "wolf moon" was given because it appeared in January, when hungry wolves would howl outside villages in days gone by.

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A super blood wolf moon occurs when a blood moon and supermoon occur simultaneously and was best seen from the United Kingdom at around 5.10am - providing clouds did not obstruct the view. Wolf moon is a Native American name for the first full moon of the year.

This happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the most dominant color highlighted as sunlight passes through our atmosphere and casts it on the moon.

Why does a total lunar eclipse not occur at every full moon?

The next total lunar eclipse is expected on May 26, 2021. The next chance for a glimpse at a lunar eclipse will be in 2022, but the entire continent won't be able to see the totality of a lunar eclipse again until 2029.

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