Words like “total lunar eclipse” are already exciting enough on their own, but throw in terms like “super”, “blood” and “wolf”, and it suddenly becomes something out of a fantasy film. Well, get ready to mix all those words together, because in the coming days, our night sky will be the stage for a rare celestial event the likes of which will only appear again in 2037.
In the very early morning of January 21st, Europe’s skies are about to get a little weird thanks to a set of variables which will create a “super blood wolf moon” lunar eclipse.
A super blood what?
OK, so it sounds more menacing than what it actually is. But it will be spectacular, and technically very rare.
First of all, it’s “super” because the moon is currently at the point in its orbit where it’s just a little bit closer to Earth, making it seem anywhere between 10 to 15% larger than usual.
It’s a “blood” moon, because when the sun, Earth and moon all line up for a moment, the shadow of the Earth casts a reddish shadow on our little old moon.
And while you probably initially thought of packs of werewolves descending on Valletta, it’s only called a “wolf” moon because it’s a full moon that happens in the month of January.
But there are actually a couple of other features that make this coming event so rare
This will be the first full moon of 2019. It will also be the year’s first full lunar eclipse. So when you add that to it being a super blood wolf moon, you’ve got the second time this has ever happened this entire century.
And for the third and last example of a super blood wolf moon lunar eclipse, you’re going to have wait 18 years, until January 31st 2037.
So can you watch it from Malta?
The short – and great – answer is Yes.
While North and South America will get to experience the full shabang on the evening of January 20th, western Europe will be able to enjoy the highlights in the early hours of the following morning. And yes; that includes Malta.
In a helpful – and absolutely mystifying – animation posted online, it looks like people in Malta (in this case, Valletta) will be able to catch the celestial show in the early hours of the 21st.
The penumbral eclipse (that is, when Earth’s shadow starts touching the moon’s face) should kick off above our islands just after 3:30am, with the total eclipse beginning a little over two hours later.
The maximum eclipse is set to be visible in Malta at about 6:12am
2019 is set to be a very eclipse-heavy year, with three solar and two lunar eclipses showing up throughout the next 12 months.
So if you were planning on doing some serious skygazing this year, Monday is the absolute perfect opportunity to start.
And sure; there are people out there who are claiming this is a harbinger of the incoming armageddon, but we’re going to go ahead and say the world probably won’t end next Monday because of a big red moon over our heads.
Featured Image Original (Unedited) Photo by Joshua Zader