The Jan. 21 total lunar eclipse will be the last one until May 2021, and the last one visible from the United States until 2022; the most recent total lunar eclipse previous to this one appeared in July 2018.
Here, learn more about what makes lunar eclipses so special. [Rare Super Blue Blood Moon Thrills Millions Around the World]
Editor's note: If you capture an amazing photo or video of the Jan. 21 total lunar eclipse and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments to: email@example.com.
Total Lunar Eclipse
During a lunar eclipse, a full moon's bright facade will change. As the moon enters Earth's shadow, all of the moon (or a section of it in the case of a partial eclipse) will turn a rusty color. Sunlight scatters to produce the red colors of sunset and sunrise when it enters Earth's atmosphere at a particular angle.
What a lunar eclipse displays is the color of all of Earth's sunrises and sunsets reaching the moon, NASA scientist Noah Petro told Space.com. If someone stood on the moon during a total lunar eclipse, Earth would appear to have a reddish ring all around it, as the person would gaze at the 360-degree sunrise and sunset they'd perceive at that particular intersection of Earth and lunar orbits.
When the lunar eclipse begins, the bright moon dims as it enters the outer part of Earth's shadow, called the penumbra. The deep tint of a full lunar eclipse is visible once the moon enters the deepest part of Earth's shadow, or umbra. The bright-red color appears once the moon is fully engulfed in the shadows, and it's the reason "blood" moon is a popular moniker for lunar eclipses.
To a certain extent, lunar eclipses reveal something about Earth, too. "Lunar eclipses ... reflect our world," astronomer and podcaster Pamela Gay told Space.com in an email. "A blood colored moon is created [by] ash from fires and volcanoes, ... dust storms and pollution all filtering sunlight as it scatters around our world. A grey eclipse is clear skies.
"Our world can change the appearance of another world, and during an eclipse, the universe lets us see this color play," she said.
The Jan. 20-21, 2019 total lunar eclipse will last 1 hour and 2 minutes, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center lunar eclipse projections.
The full experience, from the start of the partial eclipse to the end, will last 3 hours and 17 minutes.
The peak of the total lunar eclipse will happen shortly after day's end on Sunday, Jan. 20, on the U.S. east coast, at 12:16 a.m. EST (0516 GMT) on Monday, Jan. 21. This peak is also known as the "greatest eclipse" and is defined as the moment when the moon comes closest to the axis of Earth's shadow.
Below is a lunar eclipse timetable for several locations from which the celestial event is visible, based on information from timeanddate.com.
People in Hawaii and eastern Africa will catch the dramatic lunar eclipse as the moon rises and sets over the horizon, respectively. Those viewers will see a total eclipse, but not all of the partial eclipse that leads up to and ends the celestial event. All of North and South America, including the Caribbean nations, will see the entire event. People in countries in Europe such as Iceland, Ireland and Portugal will also get to view all of the eclipse. And although people in the Ukraine and Turkey won't catch the whole eclipse, they'll still wake up to an impressive lunar sight. [Total Lunar Eclipse Gets a Cloudy Halo in Cool Time-Lapse Video]
|Location||Eclipse Begins||Totality Begins||Totality Ends||Eclipse Ends|
|Anchorage, Alaska||6:33 p.m AKST||7:41 p.m. AST||8:43 p.m. AST||9:50 p.m. AST|
|Los Angeles, California||7:33 p.m. PST||8:41 p.m. PST||9:43 p.m. PST||10:50 p.m. PST|
|Mexico City, Mexico||9:33 p.m. CST||10:41 p.m. CST||11:43 p.m. CST||12:50 a.m. CST|
|Miami, Florida||10:33 p.m. EST||11:41 p.m. EST||12:43 a.m. EST||1:50 a.m. EST|
|11:33 p.m. AST||12:41 a.m. AST||1:43 a.m. AST||2:50 a.m. AST|
|Nuuk, Greenland||12:33 a.m. WGT||1:41 a.m. WGT||2:43 a.m. WGT||3:50 a.m. WGT|
|Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||1:33 a.m. BRST||2:41 a.m. BRST||3:43 a.m. BRST||4:50 a.m. BRST|
|Reykjavik, Iceland||3:33 a.m. GMT||4:41 a.m. GMT||5:43 a.m. GMT||6:50 p.m. GMT|
|Lagos, Nigeria||4:33 a.m. WAT||5:41 a.m. WAT||6:43 a.m. WAT||
Moon is below
Lunar Phases and Eclipses
A new moon occurs roughly every month, when the moon's far side is facing the sun and the moon's near side is in darkness. Every time a viewer sees the moon, it's always the same face, because the moon is tidally locked with Earth. So, when the moon is between the sun and Earth, a viewer doesn't see the near side; it cannot be seen in the sky. New moons are the phases that produce the other major celestial-shadow event: solar eclipses.
A lunar eclipse occurs during the full-moon phase, the opposite phase to new moon. During lunar eclipses Earth sits in the middle, between the sun and the moon. That's how the moon is able to pass through the planet's shadow.
Recent and Upcoming Total Lunar Eclipses
The last total lunar eclipse occurred on July 27, 2018, and was visible over Africa and countries in Central Asia such as India. Several months prior, on Jan. 31, another total lunar eclipse could be seen from Central Asia, the Pacific region and Alaska.
The first total lunar eclipse to follow Jan. 21's event will occur on May 26, 2021, and will be visible over the Pacific Ocean, with viewing possibilities in North America, South America and east Asia.