A moon by any other name is still just a moon, unless it happens to coincide with a solar eclipse. Then it’s really something to howl about, as the event gives rise to the so-called “Super Blood Wolf Moon.”
Here a few things to know about what you’ll see in the sky in late January, weather permitting:
- According to NASA, a total lunar eclipse will fall on Jan. 21, darkening the moon behind the Earth’s shadow. Scientists say this will cause the moon to appear rusty and give it a blood-like red hue, because of sunlight refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere and around the planet.
- This eclipse will also coincide with a supermoon, which is named as such because the full moon appears slightly larger and brighter than normal. The optical illusion happens because the full moon occurs at the same time it reaches its closest point to Earth in its orbit.
- January’s full moon has long been known as the Wolf Moon, but some are calling this one the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.” The moon will be in full eclipse beginning at 9:35 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 and end at 2:50 a.m. EST on Jan. 21.
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac says in Native American and early Colonial times, this moon was called the Full Wolf Moon because it appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.
To some Native American tribes, this was also called the Snow Moon, but most applied that name to the next full moon, in February.
- Early on Jan. 22, Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest objects in the sky (after the sun and the moon) will appear side by side. You can spot them in the southeast from about 5 a.m. until sunrise.
If you miss the “Super Blood Wolf Moon,” don’t fret. February’s full moon will also be considered a supermoon. NASA says at 10:53 a.m. Feb. 19, Earth will be within 222,000 miles of the moon and also appear slightly larger and brighter.