Full Wolf Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse
Last Sunday night, we experienced an unusual lunar event. We had a total lunar eclipse of a full supermoon. It was absolutely gorgeous! I took this series of photos between 10:54 PM on Sunday and 1:33 AM on Monday. I was lucky that the sky was clear, but it was extremely cold. The temperature was 19º F with 21 mph winds gusting up to 40 mph.
The first two images in the series are of the Earth's penumbral shadow reaching across the moon and leading to the total lunar eclipse. After two images of the lunar eclipse are two images of the Earth's penumbral shadow receding from the moon. The moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse because the only light hitting the moon consists of rays of sunlight that are passing through the Earth's atmosphere, turning red in the same way that they do during a sunset. It is because of this red color that a total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a "blood moon".
A supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that nearly coincides with perigee—the closest that the moon comes to the Earth in its elliptic orbit—resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as viewed from Earth. (Supermoon, Wikipedia (Jan. 27, 2019).) The fact that we had a full supermoon that coincided with a total lunar eclipse made this event extraordinary.
Each month's full moon has a name associated with it from folklore and past culture. According to National Geographic, January's full moon is known as the "Wolf Moon". American Indians and medieval Europeans named January's full moon after the howling wolves lamenting the midwinter paucity of food. Other names for January's full moon include "old moon" and "ice moon". Personally, I like "wolf moon".
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