On the evening of January 20, as long as skies are clear, Utahns should be able to see a super blood wolf moon, but what exactly does that mean?
“If we break down the super blood wolf moon: the super part means that the moon is actually close to the earth," said Ben Bromley, an astrophysicist at the University of Utah. "The moon orbits the earth but it drifts closer in time and further in time. So for this eclipse the moon will appear very big. That’s the super part. The blood part is the total eclipse: the reddish color of the moon that comes from light scattering in the earth’s atmosphere will give it that bloodish tint. And the wolf part – this is all human – it’s a name that we’ve given the first full moon in January. The super blood wolf moon is probably going to be kind of rare, but total eclipses themselves are not.”
Weather permitting, the super blood wolf moon will be visible from all of Utah. You won’t even have to stay up late to observe it.
“If you’re out and about in the evening, say around 8:30, 9, 10 on that night and you happen to glance up at the moon, it’s going to look significantly different,” Bromley said. “It will at some point enter the shadow of the earth and you will see the earth’s disk-like shadow come across the face of the moon. In time, that shadow will move across the face of the moon. At around a little after 9:40 the moon will be fully within the earth’s shadow, and it will have a beautiful reddish color to it, an appearance that results from the fact that light from the earth, our atmosphere, producing scattered red sunset light that illuminates the face of the moon during the total eclipse.”
The total eclipse will be at its maximum at 10:12 p.m. and ends at 10:43 p.m. The South Physics Observatory in Salt Lake City will be open for interested viewers, but you don’t need any special equipment to see the eclipse.