Lunar eclipses

A ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ is coming. Here’s everything you need to know

This ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ is an extra special eclipse for North America, South America and Western Europe

On January 20, 2019, a dramatic total lunar eclipse – a so-called ‘blood moon’ and even Super Wolf Blood Moon’ – will occur. Given clear skies, exactly half of the Earth will see the moon turn a reddish, copper color for around an hour.

Visible from North and South America around midnight, and from Western Europe just before dawn on January 21, it’s the third and final total lunar eclipse in a trio. The next one is not until 2021 (though there is a partial lunar eclipse on July 16, 2019, visible from Europe, Africa, and Asia, when half of the moon will turn reddish).

What is a ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’?

A supermoon is when our satellite is furthest away in its orbit during its full phase, the Wolf Moon is a North American term for January’s full moon, and a ‘blood moon’ is a colloquial term for a total lunar eclipse.

What time is the ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’?

A total lunar eclipse is a process that takes about five hours. Watching the mon slowly lose its brightness, and have an almost straight line down its middle separating bright from dark, is a process worth watching. Totality itself – the ‘red moon’ bit – lasts about an hour. Visit and put in your location for the exact times. However, here are the times for totality for some major cities.

You should watch from at least an hour before these totality times:

London (Jan. 21) 04:41-05:43 a.m.

Paris (Jan. 21) 05:41-06:43 a.m.

Madrid (Jan. 21) 05:41-06:43 a.m.

Canary Islands (Jan. 21) 04:41-05:43 a.m.

New York (Jan. 20/21) 23:41 p.m.-00:43 a.m.

Chicago (Jan. 20) 22:41-23:43 p.m.

Dallas (Jan. 20) 22:41-23:43 p.m.

Las Vegas (Jan. 20) 20:41-21:43 p.m.

Los Angeles (Jan. 20) 20:41-21:43 p.m.

How to watch the ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ from North America

For North America in particular, this is a very important total lunar eclipse.

“It is exceptionally well placed for those in North America,” says Joe Rao, meteorologist for Verizon FiOS1 News, and instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium, who wrote an article called ‘The Great American Lunar Eclipse’ for this month’s Sky & Telescope magazine.

“A total lunar eclipse visible in its entirety from coast-to-coast across the contiguous (48) United States with totality commencing everywhere before the stroke of midnight,” he explains. “In the last 50 years, only two other eclipses have done that – April 12-13, 1968 and one Metonic Cycle ago on January 20-21, 2000.”

From an observing perspective, it will be very well placed. “The Moon will be high in the sky almost anywhere you go,” says Rao. “Even out on the West Coast, where totality occurs only a few hours after moonrise, the Moon will be about 50-degrees above the horizon during totality.” From the Eastern US, the Moon will be even higher, almost directly overhead from Florida.

How to watch the ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ from the U.K.

The total lunar eclipse will also be visible from the UK and Western Europe in the small hours before dawn. “The altitude of the moon in the winter constellations does help us here in the UK because the entire totality of the eclipse is viewable just before the moon sets on the morning of the 21st,” says Tom Kerrs, an astronomer from the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London and author of Moongazing: Beginner’s guide to exploring the Moon.

Since the moon will be low in the western sky by the time totality ceases, the UK and Europe are best placed for photographers wanting to get views of the eclipsed moon set against a landscape.

Wherever you watch from, enjoy the ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ total lunar eclipse – it’s the last one until 2021 for North America, and until 2022 for Europe!

Photo credit: NASA