Total Lunar Eclipse: Here's the Next Chance to See the Celestial Event

It's a hard act to follow, but not for a super moon.

The full moon on the night of July 27 offered a rare sight for stargazers, presenting the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century. The eclipse was also considered a blood moon because of its deep red hue, and in some crowds, a “weed moon” because of its perfect timing. Now that the blood moon’s raised the bar for celestial viewing this summer, the question becomes: What’s next?

The blood moon/weed moon/total eclipse of the moon turned out to be a gorgeous trifecta and a rare treat for stargazers. Those who missed it can refer to the fleet of photos on Instagram, or simply wait it out until January 21, 2019, when the next total lunar eclipse is slated to make an appearance in the night skies of the Pacific, the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

Total (Penumbral) Lunar eclipse

Flickr / Murray Foubister

Once again, the moon will appear to turn red as it passes through Earth’s shadow. That’s because sunlight in Earth’s atmosphere will still reach the moon directly, even if Earth is blocking all direct sunlight from illuminating the moon during an eclipse. Only the red wavelengths are able to reach the moon’s face, giving it that signature reddish hue.

For those that either missed or couldn’t see the eclipse in July, its predecessor on January 21 will come with its own perks. Firstly, the eclipse will be visible to stargazers in North America, the only region to miss out in July’s spectacle. Weather permitting, the total lunar eclipse in January will be visible in both North and South America. While the west coast will be the most ideal for viewing, the east coast will also be able to catch a glimpse of the rare event.

Not only will the eclipse finally be visible to North Americans, but it will actually look bigger. That’s because January 21 also happens to be a super moon, whereby the moon will be at perigee, or its closest point to Earth. This will make the blood moon appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

Whereas the eclipse on July 27 was the longest of its kind in this century — lasting for a grand total of 102 minutes — the next eclipse will clock in at only 62 minutes. In North America, the full eclipse will begin on January 20 at 11:41 p.m. Eastern, but reach maximum eclipse after midnight, on January 21 at 12:12 a.m. Eastern. Try not to miss this one, because the next isn’t for another two years. The following total lunar eclipse after January will not occur until May 26, 2021.

It’s DOPE SPACE WEEK: July 23-29, 2018, will see a full moon (the “Full Buck Moon”); a total lunar eclipse that will see it turned a bloody color; Mars at opposition, wherein the red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth; and the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. Such a confluence of dope celestial events calls for the first semi-annual Inverse Dope Space Week! Be sure to join our private Dope Space Pics Facebook group to share in the strange wonder of space all year long. And listen to I Need My Space, the Inverse weekly podcast about the weirdness of space.

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