The new year 2020 started in style with the beautiful Quadrantid meteor shower. Now a rare penumbral lunar eclipse will coincide with a Full Moon tonight.
A penumbral lunar eclipse is different and a little less spectacular than a total eclipse of the Moon.
The Full Moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon because wolves were more often heard at this time
Tonight’s eclipse takes place when the Moon moves into Earth’s penumbra or outer shadow.
This causes Earth’s natural satellite to only look a little darker.
The change is more dramatic during a total lunar eclipse because the event makes the Moon appear to turn an eerie rusty red colour.
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Lunar eclipse 2020: Tonight’s eclipse takes place when the Moon moves into Earth’s penumbra
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Astronomers have calculated tonight’s eclipse will last for approximately four hours.
Friday’s penumbral lunar eclipse – the first of four occurring in 2020 – will be visible on Friday evening to people in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.
Astronomers have confirmed the Moon will hit full illumination around 7.21pm GMT (2.21pm EST) tomorrow.
Those in North America will, unfortunately, miss out on the eclipse because it begins just after midday and ends in the early afternoon.
However, those in Alaska and parts of Canada have a chance of catching a glimpse of the rare celestial event.
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Why is the January Full Moon called a Wolf Moon?
Every Full Moon has been traditionally assigned its own archaic name.
The Full Moon this month is called a Wolf Moon.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this name is thought to be inspired by hungry wolves howling at this time of year.
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The lunar event is also referred to as the Moon After Yule and the Old Moon.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac said: “The Full Moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon because wolves were more often heard at this time.
“It was traditionally thought that they howled due to hunger, but there is no evidence for this.
“However, wolves do tend to howl more often during winter months and generally howl to define territory, locate pack members, and gather for hunting.”
Lunar eclipse 2020: The Full Moon this month is called a Wolf Moon
Why are there 13 Full Moons in 2020?
There are normally 12 full moons in a year because one occurs each month.
Lunar months are 29.53 days long, while most months are longer than 29 days.
Consequently, the date of the Full Moon drifts to be sooner in successive months.
October this year will witness two Full Moons – once on October 1 and then again on October 31.
The unusual phenomena of having two Full Moons in the same month is known as a Blue Moon.
This is added to the fact the second Full Moon falls on Halloween, making this event literally ”once in a Blue Moon.”
2020 will also boast two Supermoons when the celestial orb appears even larger and brighter in our sky.
These Supermoons will take place on March 9 and April 7.
When are the Full Moons in 2020?
Because we have 13 Full Moons this year, there will be two Full Moons in October 2020.
In modern folklore, the second Full Moon in a calendar month is commonly called a Blue Moon.
January 10 – Full Wolf Moon
February 9 – Full Snow Moon
March 9 – Full Worm Moon
April 8 – Full Pink Moon
May 7 – Full Flower Moon
June 5 – Full Strawberry Moon
July 5 – Full Buck Moon
August 3 – Full Sturgeon Moon
September 2 – Full Corn Moon
October 2 – Full Hunter’s Moon
October 31 – Blue Moon
November 30 – Full Beaver’s Moon
December 30 – Full Cold Moon