“When you think about it, there aren’t many celestial objects that change color…. But now, on January 20, the Moon will have real color, deep color.” Bob Berman, Astronomer*
The year begins with celestial dynamics that excite our appetite for beauty and spark our capacity for wonder. The most dramatic event is a total eclipse of a perigean (closest to Earth) Full Moon that begins Sunday night, January 20, and concludes past midnight. It happens to be a holiday weekend, so plan for a late night out on Sunday. See January’s shining Full Wolf Moon go dark and – in dark sky locations – the stars appear in a nearly moonless sky until the brilliant orb returns to full light, outshining all but the brightest distant suns.
Equally wonderful but in slower motion, unfolding in increments everyday before and into dawn, is the seeming attraction between exquisitely brilliant planet Venus and bright, steady planet Jupiter. For a few minutes every clear morning, look to the east-southeast for the riveting sight of the changing relationship between these, the third and fourth brightest lights in the heavens – after the Sun and Moon. By the morning of the 20th, Jupiter will appear nearly lined-up below Venus, approaching conjunction (closest approach).
Planet Venus, which appears about 20 degrees above the southeast horizon an hour before sunrise on the 7th, loses 3 degrees by the 20th. At the same time, Jupiter appears about 10 degrees above the horizon on the 7th and gains 5 degrees by the 20th. The goddess planet is brilliant until 45 minutes before sunrise, bright until about 6:45am, which is about half hour before the Sun follows the planets into the sky. Note that lower magnitude Jupiter fades from view before Venus.
Here are key events for the total lunar eclipse on January 20-21,2019. Leah Tiscione Sky & Telescope
Translating the lunar eclipse graphic from Universal Time (UT) to Eastern Standard Time (EST), the visible portions of the upcoming lunar eclipse are as follows, courtesy of EarthSky.org:
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 10:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 11:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 12:12 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 12:43 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 1:51 a.m. (January 21, 2019)
When viewing and communicating about lunar eclipses, the Danjon scale is a tool used to identify their appearance and luminosity, as follows:
Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse. Umbral shadow has a bluish, very bright rim.
Share your celestial experiences, in full color, in the Comments section: tell all about the morning planets and dark of night total lunar eclipse.
*Bob Berman, “Will there be blood?” Astronomy Magazine, January 2019, pg 12 and http://astoundinguniverse.com