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Super Blood Wolf Moon Visible on Hawai‘i Island Jan. 20

January 19, 2019, 5:15 PM HST (Updated January 18, 2019, 9:29 AM)
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VIDEO: In case of clouds in Hilo, TimeandDate.com is streaming the Super Blood Wolf Moon live beginning at 5 p.m. 

Skywatchers around much of the world are looking forward to a complete lunar eclipse—the longest this century, on Jan. 20 and 21, 2019, depending where on the globe you are viewing from.

This total lunar eclipse will be visible in the US, Canada, South America, parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

The total lunar eclipse will be fully visible on Hawai‘i Island on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, beginning at 6:41 p.m.

The eclipse will shine at a maximum 1.20 magnitude at 7:12 p.m. and the entire event will end at 9:48 p.m., spanning a total of 3 hours, 49 minutes.

EventUTC TimeTime in Hilo*Visible in Hilo
Penumbral Eclipse beginsJan 21 at 02:36:29Jan 20 at 4:36:29 pmNo, below the horizon
Partial Eclipse beginsJan 21 at 03:33:54Jan 20 at 5:33:54 pmNo, below the horizon
Full Eclipse beginsJan 21 at 04:41:17Jan 20 at 6:41:17 pmYes
Maximum EclipseJan 21 at 05:12:14Jan 20 at 7:12:14 pmYes
Full Eclipse endsJan 21 at 05:43:15Jan 20 at 7:43:15 pmYes
Partial Eclipse endsJan 21 at 06:50:39Jan 20 at 8:50:39 pmYes
Penumbral Eclipse endsJan 21 at 07:48:02Jan 20 at 9:48:02 pmYes

* The moon is below the horizon in Hawai‘i some of the time, so that part of the eclipse is not visible.

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This will be the first and only total lunar eclipse of 2019. The only other lunar eclipse during the year, a partial lunar eclipse, will take place on July 16 and 17.

A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a Blood Moon because of it reddish color.

This particular full moon will also be “super-sized,” having reached its perigee—the point on its orbit closest to Earth—on Jan. 20. Known as a Super Moon, Supermoon, or Super Full Moon, it may look bigger and brighter than a normal full moon.

The eclipsed full moon has also been nicknamed the Wolf Moon, after howling wolves that can be heard during this time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

The confluence of a full lunar eclipse and its perigee position has prompted the name Super Wolf Blood Moon or the Super Blood Wolf Moon.

For an animation showing what the eclipse will look like in Hilo, click here.

Bottomline: We’re going to have a reddish, total lunar eclipse during the first full moon of the year—which means the sun, Earth and moon will be in a straight line for a short time—while the moon is also at its closest distance to the Earth.

There is a lot of speculation “out there” questioning whether a lunar eclipse can “trigger” natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, especially during this month’s much-hyped Super Blood Wolf Moon.

Well-known on the islands is the fact that the moon’s gravitational pull on our planet, which is strongest during full and new moons, increases ocean tides.

According to the USGS, earthquakes may be up to three times more likely during high tides, but the agency explained that they’re still very unlikely.

“You must stop and realize that the background probability is, in general, very low in a given place and year (fractions of a percent), so that raising this tiny probability by a factor of 3 during high tides still results in a very tiny probability.”

The USGS has also said that there may be a correlation between the lunar cycle and eruptions of Hawaiian volcanoes, but that attempting to predict eruptions around tides or the moon “would be absurd.”

“In the Hawai’i example of 52 eruptions since January 1832, there have been nearly 3,900 tidal maximums, of which roughly 3,850 of them went by without causing an eruption. Statistically, this is about a one percent chance that any tidal maximum will affect the start of an eruption.”

Although the correlation between earthly disasters and lunar events seems “super weak,” the opposite is actually more accurate, at least for this lunar viewing event.

According to a science education website, pollution spewed by Anak Krakatau’s eruption in Indonesia may darken an already red moon during this eclipse, making it more colorful than usual.

The specific red hue that will develop cannot be predicted, the site said, but there is reason to suspect that this year’s will be deep.

During a total lunar eclipse, direct sunlight is blocked by the Earth and the only light reaching us is sunlight refracted by Earth’s atmosphere, producing a reddish color. PC: Wikipedia

The volcano erupted with explosive force on Dec. 22, 2018. The shock was so powerful that it sent a tsunami racing ashore the beaches of the Sunda Strait, killing more than 400 people, according to the Red Cross.

This plume of ash and more towered to 10 miles, according to an analysis of data collected by a Japanese weather satellite. Much of the aerosol and particulate matter was swept up by the jet stream—the current of air that snakes around Earth about 6 miles above the surface.

From Indonesia, it takes about two weeks for this high-altitude air pollution to make one round-the-world trek. So by now, all the aerosols are fully mixed within the Southern Hemisphere’s upper atmosphere.

Blood moon eclipse, pixabay. No watermark to mar image.

Phases of a blood moon eclipse. PC: Pixabay

Since it’s summer there, the Southern Hemisphere is pointed toward the sun. So any light passing through Earth’s atmosphere during totality will stream through the area where all of that volcanic pollution is still “hanging out.” That should filter out even more sunlight than during a typical eclipse.

So if Sunday night’s moon looks darker, browner or more obscured than usual for an eclipse, its was most likely caused by volcanic activity.

Big Island Now attempted to contact the USGS on the Big Island for comment… but due to the lapse in appropriations because of the ongoing government shutdown, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory public information officer-geologist was prohibited from conducting work as a federal employee, “including returning phone calls and emails, until further notice.”

The USGS director did not reply to our inquiry by publication time.

Debra Lordan
Debra Lordan has been a writer and website editor for Pacific Media Group since 2014. She has 39-plus years of experience in the publishing industry, serving in a variety of positions—from photographer, graphic designer and communications director to writer, editor and general manager—at scientific research centers, in book publishing, at a weekly newspaper and various magazines. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.
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