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Total Lunar Eclipse

17 Jan 2019, 16:30 UTC
Total Lunar Eclipse
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One of the most dramatic and easily viewed celestial events—a total lunar eclipse—is fast approaching. It happens on January 20-21 and will be visible from across North and South America (in Flagstaff, the majority of the action takes place late on the 20th). The Internet is rife with stories information about the eclipse, calling it a “super blood wolf moon total eclipse” or some variation of those words. While these descriptors are scientifically dubious, they have become popular in the media.
First, let’s look at the science of eclipses. Lunar eclipses occur only when the Moon is in its full phase whereas solar eclipses take place only when the Moon is new. A full Moon happens when it is opposite the Sun, with Earth in between the two bodies. Thus, when the Moon is full, it will be rising on the eastern horizon as the Sun is setting on the western horizon. The alignment of the three bodies is usually a bit off kilter but occasionally, the three line up just right so that Earth is in the path of the Sun and blocks its light from reaching the Moon. The result of the Moon’s passing through Earth’s shadow is ...

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