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Call in late to work on Monday (Jan. 21) and prepare to spend Sunday night staring at the sky: The Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse is coming.
That's a mouthful, but let's break it down. January's full moon is a supermoon, meaning that the moon is at the point in its orbit where it is nearest to Earth. This is called perigee. The average distance from Earth to the moon is 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers). At perigee this January, the distance will shrink to 222,043 miles (357,344 km). At the moon's next apogee in February, when the moon is farthest from Earth, it will be 252,622 miles (406,555 km) away from Earth.
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The rest of the name is all about planetary geometry. This month, as the moon swings closest to Earth, the moon will also undergo a total lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses happen when Earth is between the sun and the moon, and the moon passes into Earth's shadow.
Part - Shadow - Paul - Hayne - Astrophysicist
"Not just any part of the shadow," said Paul Hayne, an astrophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder, "but the deepest, darkest part of the shadow, called the umbra."
Despite the moon's position in this deep shadow, it won't entirely vanish from Earthlings' sight. A little bit of sunlight sneaks through Earth's atmosphere, bent and scattered by the thin sheen of gases blanketing our planet. Red wavelengths of light pass through, creating an eerie vermilion hue on the moon's face for viewers on Earth. From the moon, it would look as if Earth were surrounded by an orange ring of fire.
Sunset - Way - Earth - Hayne - Live
"It's like seeing a sunset all the way around the Earth," Hayne told Live Science. Because of the color, lunar eclipses are also known as "blood moons."
The total eclipse of the moon...
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