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'Super blood wolf moon' next up in super year for eclipses

Six eclipses will take to the sky in 2019, including a total lunar eclipse that will tint the moon red later this month.

nasa40-bloodmoon

A NASA image of a "blood moon" blushing red.

NASA

For sky watchers in parts of north Asia, the new year will begin with the moon taking a "bite" out of the sun a few weeks before the rest of us are treated to the spooky-sounding conjunction of celestial events known as a "super blood wolf moon."

Altogether there will six eclipses observable from planet Earth in 2019, including a total solar eclipse over parts of the Pacific, Chile and Argentina on July 2 like the one that wowed multitudes across the US in the summer of 2017.

But there's also a partial solar eclipse coming up this weekend, on Jan. 6. While much less dramatic than the spectacular sight of a total eclipse, the moon will partially cover the sun for up to a minute and 43 seconds. Observing this, however, will require special protective solar eclipse eyewear that can be purchased online. Remember, looking at the sun without such protection is, of course, very dangerous. 

To see the eclipse, you'll also need to be in Japan, Korea or just the right part of Siberia, northeast China, Mongolia or Alaska's Aleutian Islands

For eclipse fans in the Americas and western Europe, January also brings the last opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse until 2021. This cool celestial event occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are all in a line, casting the shadow of the Earth on to the moon and giving it a reddish tint -- hence the term "blood moon."

When this happens on the evening of Jan. 20 in the western hemisphere, the moon will also be near its closest approach to Earth, making it appear the slightest bit larger in the sky. This is a fairly regular occurrence we call a supermoon. 

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Finally, January's full moon is nicknamed the "wolf moon," because cultures in the Northern Hemisphere used to sit around during the long winter nights and hear howling wolves outside.

Put them all together and you get a "super blood wolf moon" that will be viewable for about an hour in the western hemisphere late Jan. 20 or the early morning hours of Jan. 21 in western Europe.

And that's just the start. Four more eclipses are set to happen in 2019, including the big show in South America this July. We'll have more details on how to view these events as they approach.

This post first published on Jan. 2 and will be updated as the various eclipses near. 

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