January’s usual weather conditions — with chilly temperatures for much of America and cloudy skies in the Pacific Northwest — aren’t exactly ideal for tracking a total lunar eclipse, but Sunday night’s “Super Blood Wolf Moon” actually lived up to the hype.
Photographers across much of the country braved the cold to get some jaw-dropping snapshots and time-lapse views. Even in Seattle, where the weather forecast wasn’t promising, the hours-long progression from supersized full moon to a ruddy darkness and back to lunar brightness unfolded in mostly clear skies.
Let’s start with my top-10 favorites from Twitter, then get down to the details:
— Tim Durkan (@timdurkan) January 21, 2019
— Sigma Sreedharan (@sigmas) January 21, 2019
The progression of the #LunarEclipse / #SuperBloodWolfMoon, seen at the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (@ExploreSpaceKSC)! I couldn’t think of a better place to combine my love for rocketry with this astronomical event. Thanks to KSCVC for having me! pic.twitter.com/6RMQz1HUYV
— John Kraus (@johnkrausphotos) January 21, 2019
LAX bound Southwest airlines 4479 from DAL captured from Yucaipa, CA. It took lots of patience and luck and the @flightradar24 app to capture this image. Lots of fun! #SuperBloodWolfMoon @NBCNews @nbcla @KTLAMorningNews @KTLA @cbs2kcal9brk @AP_Images pic.twitter.com/ww5nxqDBlu
— Cosmin Cosma (@cosnews) January 21, 2019
Holy Mary, Mother of God, teach me your astronomically epic basketball skills?
— ?Trevor Mahlmann (@TrevorMahlmann) January 21, 2019
Lunar eclipse 2019 New York!! pic.twitter.com/jPpaZLDgoS
— John Zapata Sanchez (@JhonSZapata2) January 21, 2019
My view of amazing #Lunar #Eclipse from the last night obtained from #Santiago in #Chile #lunareclipse #lunareclipse2019 #astronomy #Moon @MarcaChile @canal13 #EclipseTotaldeLuna #EclipseLunar #Eclipse2019 @BBCStargazing @AstronomyMag @SkyandTelescope pic.twitter.com/LKLJJEEqnk
— Yuri Beletsky (@YBeletsky) January 21, 2019
A few years ago, I took a quick snap of a lunar eclipse with my phone … didn't come out so well.
Last night I tried it with the telescope — much better!
This was from a series of 5 images taken about 15 minutes before totality ended. The north is starting to brighten up. pic.twitter.com/dZILdQqyvZ
— Scott Denning (@airscottdenning) January 21, 2019
— Scott Sutherland (?️?️????️) (@ScottWx_TWN) January 21, 2019
— Alan Boyle (@b0yle) January 21, 2019
“Super Blood Wolf Moon” is a rather silly sobriquet referring to the fact that the full moon was bigger and brighter than usual, due to the celestial arrangement when Earth came right between the sun and the moon, casting a giant shadow … plus the fact that an eclipse tends to turn the moon a blood-red, orangish or brownish color, due to the shards of sunlight refracted through Earth’s atmosphere … plus the fact that January’s full moon is traditionally called the “Wolf Moon.”
Political commentator Rick Wilson joked that the eclipse could just as well be called the “Full Blood God Death Night Lord Wild Beast Moon.” And David Wahl, the Director of Awesome at Seattle’s Archie McPhee novelty emporium, suggested that from now on, each night’s moon should be given a jazzy name. “Tonight could be the Mediocre Sweat Chihuahua Moon,” he tweeted.
Whatever you call it, this eclipse was mostly a crowd-pleaser, although there was a disturbing story about a couple of eclipse-watchers who were lying down in a dark park roadway in Palm Beach, Fla., when they were run over by a police car. (The pair’s injuries were not life-threatening, the Palm Beach Post reported.)
Matthew Inman, the Seattle-based cartoonist behind The Oatmeal, took note of a different sort of disturbance: the flood of eclipse pictures in his tweetstream:
and so it begins pic.twitter.com/Sy4wzqhrKY
— Matthew Inman (@Oatmeal) January 21, 2019
We’ve only got a month before the next spasm of supermoon snapshots. The Feb. 19 full moon won’t feature an eclipse, but it will rate as the biggest and brightest lunar spectacle of the year — which justifies the sole “supermoon” title in my book. February’s full moon is traditionally known as the Snow Moon, so brace yourself for the #SuperSnowMoon hashtag.
There’ll be a longer wait for the next total lunar eclipse: That comes more than two years from now, when the viewing opportunity is somewhat less convenient for North Americans. In Seattle, you’ll want to set your alarm clock for 4:11 a.m. on May 26, 2021, to catch 14 minutes of totality.