The evening of Jan. 20 into Jan. 21 also marks the first supermoon of the year, when Earth’s natural satellite is closest, and a ‘blood moon’ will be created by the Earth’s shadow.
It is time to get outside and just look up. Brave the cold if the skies are clear on the evening of Jan. 20 and early morning hours of Jan. 21 to witness the last time a total lunar eclipse will be visible in North America until May 26, 2021.
On Jan. 20 the first full moon of 2019 will lighten the sky. It also will be a bit dimmed for more than three hours by the Earth’s shadow, according to predictions byFred Espenak of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. If visiting NASA’s eclipse information page, be aware the organization uses Universal Time (the successor to Greenwich Mean Time), meaning five hours must be subtracted to translate the timetable to Eastern Standard Time.
EarthSky.org offers the following breakdown: the beginning, or partial umbral eclipse, starts at 10:34 p.m.; the total lunar eclipse runs from 11:41 p.m. to 12:43 a.m. on Jan. 21. The greatest eclipse will occur at 12:12 a.m. according to EarthSky.org and 12:13 a.m. according to NASA. A partial eclipse will wane until 1:51 a.m.
“Though max eclipse is at midnight, I highly encourage all to dig out and dust off their telescopes, or even use binoculars to see the January 20 lunar eclipse,” said Elan Lift, 2019 Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society president. “We’ll start to see Earth’s shadow wash over Luna (the moon) as is blocks light from Sol (the sun). Be sure to zoom in on craters as the shadows ‘pop’ across. It may not look like much when it starts around 9:30 p.m. EST, but the red coloration is in full effect around midnight. Let’s hope the weather holds to see the red moon from Reading.”
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth gets between the sun and the moon and the Earth’s shadow covers the moon. The shadow creates a red cast to the surface of the moon and that is where the name “blood moon” comes from.
The last total lunar eclipse the Earth experienced was on July 27, 2018, but it was not visible in North America. One on Jan. 31, 2018, was visible to only western North America. The last time a total lunar eclipse would have been visible in Berks was Sept. 28, 2015.
Reading Eagle: Ben Hasty |
Elan Lift, of Reading, holds one of his telescopes, a 60 mm Bushnell. Next to him are two reflector telescopes during a meeting of the Berks County Amateur Astronomical Society at the Bicentennial House in West Reading on Nov. 9, 2017.
Lift, 27, is a planetarium assistant at the Reading Public Museum and has organized a gathering of eclipse watchers for unofficial observations at Trooper Thorn’s, 451 Morgantown Road (Route 10), for Sunday night. He will be there from 9:30 p.m. to midnight to answer questions and help people with their telescopes or binoculars.
“Just walk outside and look up,” Lift said. “Light pollution doesn’t matter, even from the middle of the city you can have a good view.”
Lift should know, he is a city resident and has been an avid astronomy enthusiast for eight years.
“I didn’t realize how interested in it I was until I walked through the doors of the planetarium when I was 19,” Lift said.
The Wyomissing High grad said he worked at the Neag Planetarium while he studied genetics and developmental science at Penn State Berks and the amount of scientific development in the area of space has kept his interest growing. What is in space, how humans travel through it and are sustained in it all fascinate him.
“It’s really what I love,” Lift said.
He has been able to kindle that fire by being involved in the BCAAS.
“We’re a group of enthusiasts that love to share our loves of the skies,” he said.