Wolf moon set to light up the night sky

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The name can be traced to earlier times when wolves would gather to howl at the moon during an unusual event.

While total lunar eclipses are not especially rare, the 2019 version takes place early enough in the evening that it can be enjoyed by US stargazers of all ages, said George Lomaga, a retired astronomy professor from Suffolk County Community College.

"You don't need any special equipment to see a lunar eclipse", Hayne said. No one knows for sure, but that skewed orbit is likely a relic from eons ago, when the moon first formed in the fiery aftermath of a collision between our embryonic planet and a Mars-size interloper.

According to NASA, The event will last about four hours, beginning at 9:36 pm ET Sunday, Jan. 20 and ending about 1:50 am ET Monday, Jan. 21.

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A total lunar eclipse is referred to as a blood moon because when the sun, Earth and moon all line up briefly, the shadow of the Earth casts a reddish shadow on its lone natural satellite.

"It's going to be a moon, but it's going to look like you painted it orange!" This accounts for the infrequent occurrences of total lunar eclipses.

The total phase of the eclipse will be visible from the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the western part of Africa, as well as the northernmost portions of Russian Federation.

Of course, as is the case in a large theater, auditorium or concert hall, some will have a better view than others. For viewers in North and South America, the entire eclipse will be visible. "Front row center" belongs to those who live near and along the U.S. East Coast, where the totally eclipsed moon will climb to extraordinary heights.

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JPL's website says Sunday's lunar eclipse is a great opportunity for students to learn more about the alignments and interaction of sun, Earth and moon.

And from eastern Cuba, the moon will appear directly overhead.

WALTER FREEMAN, PHYSICIST, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: "Minutes after 10:30 p.m". And that's because the only light the moon gets is from sunlight reflecting off the Earth and the Earth's atmosphere. For the next hour, the moon will dim slightly. The reason for their rarity is the moon's orbit, which is tilted some 5 degrees off-kilter from Earth's orbital plane, or ecliptic; if the two were perfectly aligned, a total lunar eclipse would occur monthly, each time the moon was full.

AND, TO THINK: When my boy Willard and I were preparing to register for our freshman year, he got into a froth when he read astronomy was "the study of heavenly bodies".

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