Eye Catching Experience: Total Lunar Eclipse

SCIENCE

A total lunar eclipse greets skywatchers at the end of this week. Don’t miss it, as the next one will not be until 26 May 2021. The Moon will begin to enter Earth’s shadow at 03:34 GMT on 21 January and reach mid-eclipse at 05:12 GMT.

Skywatchers in the Americas will see things at earlier local times, which shift the eclipse into the evening of 20 January. The Moon will spend a total of 62 minutes in the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. During this time, the Moon will appear to turn a red colour due to atmospheric effects at Earth bending the sunlight. In total, the full eclipse will last more than three hours and twenty minutes.

The eclipse takes place during the first supermoon of 2019. A supermoon is a new or full moon that takes place when the Moon is near the closest point in its orbit with Earth. By coincidence there are three supermoons this year, occurring at full moon on 21 January, 19 February and 21 March. February’s is closest at 356,846km but only January’s boasts an eclipse.