Super Simple Viewer’s Guide to the Total Lunar Eclipse Jan. 20–21

Eclipse guides can be annoyingly complex. Watching lunar eclipses is really easy. And they’re REALLY COOL. So here’s a super simple guide to the total lunar eclipse Sunday night, Jan. 20, visible from all of North and South America and western Europe and Africa.

Three photos show a total lunar eclipse from Sept. 27, 2015. The partial phase is seen before (right) and after (left) with totality in the middle. Image: Sean Walker/Sky & Telescope

How it Works

Image: NASA

Supermoon Rising

This full moon, on Dec. 3, 2017 seen from Washington, D.C. looked huge on the horizon. With photographs, the effect can be magnified further with telephoto lenses. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Blood-Red Moon?

If Earth had no atmosphere, the moon would be totally black during a total lunar eclipse. But some red-hued sunlight refracts through the atmosphere and hits the moon (blue light gets scattered more and doesn’t pass through—that’s why the sky is blue!). Image (not to scale): Sky & Telescope

Total Super Bloody Wolf Moon Eclipse Lunacy

Fun Fact

Next Up

Due to the Moon’s off-center path through Earth’s full shadow (called the umbra), the northern half of its disk should look slightly brighter during totality than the southern half. Note again that these times are U.S. Pacific. Add three hours for Eastern, etc. etc. Image: Sky & Telescope

Explainer of things, independent health and science journalist, author, former editor-in-chief of LiveScience and Space dot com.

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