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Everything you need to know about viewing the 'super wolf blood moon' overnight

The next total lunar eclipse won’t happen for 14 years.

Blue Super Moon over London, 2018
Blue Super Moon over London, 2018
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

TOMORROW MORNING’S SUPER Wolf Blood Moon will be the only total lunar eclipse seen from Ireland until 2032, according to Astronomy Ireland founder, David Moore. 

A ‘super wolf blood moon’ occurs when a supermoon combines with a total lunar eclipse, making the moon appear slightly larger when full, and blood-red during the eclipse.

Culturally, Native North American names are popular in moon-naming, and January’s is known as the ‘wolf moon’, Moore explained. 

“In the same way that you get a glow on the sky after the sun has gone below the horizon,  it’s all these sunsets, twilights, sunrises, all around the Earth, feebly lighting up the moon, that only an hour earlier was the brightest it can be in the sky,” said Moore. 

It’s hard to know when the last supermoon was, he says, because they’re a relatively new interest. 

“Supermoons have become quite popular — we didn’t actually look back historically at the last time it happened.” It does appear a little larger, but not by much, he said. 

‘Take a day off’

The last total lunar eclipse visible from Ireland was in July last year. 

This year, Moore is encouraging people to “take a day off work or school and watch this amazing spectacle of nature”.

The eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, but binoculars will “get you that bit closer,” said Moore, and apart from that, to just make sure you’re facing west. 

The total eclipse will occur for 62 minutes, which is about average, according to Moore. Before totality, it begins at 3:34am, ending at 6:51am. 

The total phase is the best time to view the event at about 5:15am.

Astronomy Ireland are encouraging people around the country to take pictures of the moon and send them into the Astronomy Ireland magazine. 

“The one thing we always say about the weather; even if it’s very bad weather, someone will get a break in the clouds somewhere,” said Moore. 

“It is the full moon remember, you have a very bright object in the sky, it can often just peak out from a break in the clouds; it’s a very slow-moving event.”

He recommends that moon-gazers check the sky every five minutes if the weather is bad.

“Don’t let the weather put you off, keep checking regardless,” he said. 

The Beehive Cluster

Aside from the eclipse and supermoon, there are other celestial curiosities to keep an eye on in the early hours.

“The things to watch out for during totality is, just how red does the moon get?” said Moore.

Sometimes it’s red, sometimes dim, but it can also have blue and white tinges, he said – so it’s worth taking a good look.

As the eclipse comes to an end, Venus and Jupiter will appear very bright, and close together, says Moore. 

“These are the two brightest stars in the sky,” said Moore, so they’ll be very visible with the naked eye. 

During the total eclipse, there will be a cluster of stars visible just above the moon. The ‘Beehive Cluster’ won’t be visible by the light of the full moon, but when it’s eclipsed, it’s a million times dimmer, said Moore. 

“It would make a great photograph.”

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