The 2019 Super Blood Wolf Moon; A Trifecta of Lunar Phenomena

Blood moon - full Lunar Eclipse in the night sky

Roughly this time last year we were privy to the Super Blue Blood Moon and this weekend will present us with yet another rare trifecta of lunar phenomena – that’s right, it’s time for the Super Blood Wolf Moon!

No, these are not just made up names to get people excited (well one of them is sort of made up), but in fact a real convergence of phenomena that will only occur three times this century. And not only will the moon look big, bright and orange, it will also present us with a lunar eclipse – the kind you can stare at all you’d like without having to worry about damaging your vision.

So, let’s start with the most intriguing descriptor – what the heck is a wolf moon? This is the one moniker that doesn’t actually refer to a cosmological feat, but instead, to the time of year in which a full moon arises.

According to history books, Native American tribes and early colonists in the U.S. referred to January’s full moon as a “Wolf Moon,” due to the howls of wolves and other canines heard this time of year. Apparently the damping effect of the snow during the month of January kept the woods silent, making the high-pitched echoes of their howls distinct.

Of course, these accounts are all according to folklore, so it’s uncertain where exactly the “wolf moon” designation originated. But we’ll keep it anyway.

The “super moon” refers to the eclipse that will occur as well as the point in the moon’s monthly orbit where it’s at its closest point to Earth, making it appear slightly larger and just a little bit closer than usual.

And finally the “blood” identifier comes from the reddish color created by the eclipse, as the light reflected off the moon is filtered through Earth’s atmosphere.  In the process, shorter blue wavelengths become scattered while longer red wavelengths reach the moon, giving it that distinct sanguine facade.

The eclipse will be visible in North and South America, Europe, and Africa starting Sunday evening in the western hemisphere and lasting for about five hours. Beginning around 10:33 pm EST, the moon will enter Earth’s penumbral shadow, marking the start of the eclipse.

A little more than an hour later it will reach totality, becoming completely hidden by Earth’s shadow, staying fully or partially obfuscated for another hour. The moon will then exit the eclipse around 1:50 a.m. EST Monday morning.

Though lunar eclipses are relatively common (especially compared to solar eclipses) you won’t see another total lunar eclipse like this until May of 2021. Happy watching! And for more insight and meaning into the celestial phenomena to come this year check out the Gaia Guide to 2019 Eclipses and Planetary Retrogrades.

 

And for more on the meaning of this year’s astrological phenomena check out the latest episode of Inspirations with Lisa Garr:



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