Beginning late Sunday night, January 20, and lasting into early Monday morning, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from North America. Because the moon will be near its closest approach to Earth at the time, it’s a supermoon, which appears slightly larger in the sky than normal. That means that if we have the clear, cold night forecasters expect, we get to see a giant, red moon—and it’ll be pretty hard to miss.
If you’re trying to commune with this massive moon, here’s what you need to know.
How much of the lunar eclipse will we see in Austin?
Unlike the solar eclipse in 2017, which didn’t reach totality in Austin, the full lunar eclipse should be visible to all of North America, South America, and parts of Europe and Africa. (For those taking notes, that includes Austin.)
When is the lunar eclipse visible in Austin?
The first phase of the eclipse should be visible around 9:30 p.m. in Austin, with totality beginning at 10:40 p.m., reaching its peak at 11:12 p.m., and ending at 11:45 p.m.; the whole thing will be over by 2 a.m Monday. From beginning to end, it will last approximately five hours, with totality lasting almost exactly an hour.
Where is the lunar eclipse visible in Austin?
Thanks to strong winds blowing in a cold front Saturday, the sky should be clear Sunday night, so you can pick one of your favorite sky-watching spots or just see it from home. We’ll also be able to see bright stars not normally visible due to their proximity during a full moon—with the (relatively) nearby Beehive Cluster and the bright Gemini stars Castor and Pollux visible.
What will the weather be like for the lunar eclipse?
Chilly temperatures should accompany the clear skies, with overnight temperatures expected to be in the lower 40s. The good news is that, unlike with solar eclipses, you don’t need any contraptions or special glasses to look at the lunar eclipse, so you can (and should) include binoculars—which will enhance your viewing experience—in your outerwear ensemble.
The moon should rise in the east early Sunday evening and will be east-southeast in the sky when the eclipse begins.
What does a lunar eclipse look like—and why is this one called a ‘super blood wolf moon’?
A “supermoon” occurs when the full moon aligns with a point in its elliptical orbit when it is almost the closest it gets to the earth—thus appearing larger than usual.
The moon turns reddish during the totality phase of an eclipse because the sunlight illuminating it first hits Earth’s atmosphere, which traps the blue light in the spectrum (see: the daytime sky), while the “red, orange, and yellow wavelengths pass through into the planet’s shadow and get projected onto the moon,” according to Vox’s Brian Resnick.
What’s the “wolf” part about? Just as many refer to the September/October full moon as the “harvest moon” and a rare 13th full moon to occur in a single year as a “blue moon,” various North American and European cultures have a tradition of naming every month’s full moon. January’s is the commonly called the “wolf moon.”
What if I miss it?
You’ll have to wait until 2021 to see the next total lunar eclipse visible from Austin.
• Traditional Full Moon Names [Time and Date]