It's being hailed on social media as the "super blood wolf moon", though it's not really different from any other total lunar eclipse. The only reason the moon is visible is because some of the light is refracted, or bent, around the edges of the globe and toward the moon. Those combined with the trick of the eye that happens during moonrises that make it already look bigger mean super moon rises are spectacular.
This is what gives the moon its reddish tinge which, while not "blood" red as its name suggests, has a copper-like colour. Not much darkening will be visible yet, according to NASA.
As many as 2.8 billion people may see this weekend's eclipse from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, West Africa and northernmost Russian Federation, according to Space.com. That's where the "blood" comes in. The only light wavelength left is red - dimly illuminating the moon with less than one-thousandth of the full moon's normal brightness. Most colors on the spectrum are blocked, but red usually makes it through, effectively projecting all of Earth's sunrises and sunsets onto the moon's surface like a celestial cinema.
The sunlight passes through Earth's atmosphere, which filters out most of the blue light. During our days, sunlight coming in from up high is scattered.
So there's the super and blood parts of the moon. What is called the "maximum peak" of this Sunday's eclipse will appear in Chattanooga's skies at 12:12 a.m. According to EarthSky.org, the moon's orbit will take it between 221,681 miles and 252,622 miles this year.
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Take that away and you've got a super blood moon, which is a total lunar eclipse that happens at "perigee syzygy". Sunday's eclipse will nearly coincide with that perigee, meaning that the moon won't just be redder than usual, it will also look a tiny bit wider. The main impediment to experiencing the relatively rare phenomenon: Weather.
First, let's look at the "blood" part of the name.
However, it is forecast as cloudy overnight on Sunday and Monday with frost possible, so the view of the lunar eclipse could be obscured by the clouds at some points during the night. Just something to think about the next time you watch Earth's shadow wax and wane across our nearest neighbor. Or you can just wait for the Instagram posts.
On Jan. 20 or 21 (depending on where you are in the country), Canada will be treated to a total lunar eclipse.