In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon – hence the super blood wolf moon.
This will be the first of three supermoons this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 357,300km away. The 19 February supermoon will be a bit closer and one in March will be the farthest.
Will you be able to see the ‘blood moon’ in South Africa?
Strictly speaking the ‘blood moon’ will not be visible in South Africa regardless of where you are in the country.
The eclipse will begin at about 04:30 SAST but the moon will dip below the horizon before the earth’s shadow stretches across the whole of the moon. Part of the eclipsed moon may still be visible on the horizon until it completely sets.
Stargazers in Cape Town and the West coast will see the most of the eclipse but even they will not see the moon turn completely red.
The height of the eclipse will take place at 07:12 SAST but the moon will not be visible in South African skies at that time.
When will the next ‘blood moon’ occur?
The next ‘blood moon’ fully visible in South Africa will be on May 26 2021 though another partial eclipse will be visible in January of 2020.
Total Lunar eclipses are a freak cosmic event that we can enjoy because of the current distance of the moon from the earth, but the moon is inching away from the earth, at the glacial pace of 4cms per year, and in a few billion years (roughly four times the length of the month of January) the earth’s shadow will no longer completely cover the moon’s surface.
The reason the moon doesn’t fall into total darkness is that some light reflects off the earth and onto the surface of the moon. This light is refracted through the earth’s atmosphere giving the moon an eerie glow.
If one were standing on the moon, looking back at the sun, one would see the black disk of Earth blocking the entire sun, but also a ring of reflected light glowing around the edges of Earth.
Sources: The South African