What is a Total Lunar Eclipse?

One of the biggest astronomical events is happening  January 20! For the first time in 19 years, people living in North and South America will be able to enjoy a total lunar eclipse.  Referred to as the Super Blood Moon Eclipse, this is going to be one event you do not want to miss!


What is a Lunar Eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.

A lunar eclipse is much different from a solar eclipse because they can be seen without special glasses.  The only thing you really need to have are clear skies. Just simply look up and take it all in.

There are 3 types of lunar eclipses.

Total  Lunar Eclipse– The Earth moves between the sun and moon and all three form a straight line.  This means that Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

Partial Lunar Eclipse – The sun, Earth, and moon are not perfectly aligned; therefore, and Earth’s shadow only covers a portion of the moon.

Penumbra Lunar Eclipse –  The sun, Earth, and moon are not perfectly aligned; therefore, some of the sun’s light is blocked by the Earth which causes it not to reach the moon’s surface.  It only covers a part of the moon. because the moon is passing through the Earth’s penumbral shadow.

Why is it called a Super Moon?

A moon is considered a Super Moon when a full moon or new moon is at it’s closest point to Earth.  When this happens the moon appears brighter and bigger than a regular full moon.

Why does the moon appear to be red?

The moon appears to be a muddy red color s the earth’s shadow covers the moon.  This causes it to look red because the red sunlight bends around the earth’s atmosphere and hits the moon.  It is similar to what occurs at sunrise or sunset.

Tellus Museum
Image Credit – Tellus Museum

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party

If you are looking for something fun to do in the Atlanta area, make plans to stay up late with Tellus Museum for a night to remember.

7 PM – Midnight
Kids Activities: Find out how much you’d weigh on the Moon + feel Moon craters using a tactile Moon map!

8 PM
Join Tellus Astronomer David Dundee in the Theater as he discusses lunar eclipses.

10 PM
The Observatory opens with a live feed streamed into the Museum. Also, join members of the Atlanta Astronomy Club on the lawn for eclipse viewing.

9:30 PM, 10:30 PM, and 11:30 PM
See special lunar eclipse shows in the Planetarium.

Regular Admission is charged for non-members.  Visit Tellus Museum for more information.

night sky

For those of us that will be at home in the Atlanta area, here is what you need to know to make the most of the evening.  The eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. Sunday night.  The total lunar eclipse will start at 11:41 p.m. and will be at its darkest point at 12:12 am.

If you don’t live in the Atlanta area, check with your local observatory to see if they will have a special viewing party.  If not and the weather is good, head outside to enjoy the evening.  Even if the weather is bad,  you can watch a live feed from Griffith Observatory in California.   Their broadcast will begin shortly before the moon rises at Griffith Observatory, around 5:10. The penumbral eclipse beings at 6:36 pm. We will continue to broadcast until the end of the penumbral eclipse at 11:48 pm. You can watch it here.

This is the last Total Lunar Eclipse viewable in our area until May 15, 2022! If you want to know when other lunar eclipses will happen, check out this link.

Kid Friendly Ideas

Need some other ideas on how to share this event with kids?  Here is a great book to help teach them about the moon.

the moon book

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Learning Resources has quite a few activities you can do with your kids.

Space Word Search

Moon Landing Maze

No matter where you live, make it a point to experience these events with family and friends.  Some things only happen a few times during our lifetime.  Make you sure you do not miss them.

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