By: Nick Swafford
If you went outside and took a glimpse at the night sky on January 20th, you probably would’ve found the moon with a new glaze of red across it. This event of the normally pale gray moon turning a tone of red is known as a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse is much less exciting than a solar eclipse and it is a whole lot more common. An eclipse happens when the moon orbits around the Earth in such a way that it lines up with the sun and the Earth. A lunar eclipse is when the moon is positioned right behind the Earth, completely hidden from the sun. The light that refracts from the Earth’s atmosphere projects a reddish tint onto the surface of the moon, resulting in the red moon.
The event on January 20th was actually a “Super Wolf Blood Moon,” a phenomenon that’s rarer than a normal lunar eclipse. It was a combination between a blood moon and a super moon which made the red on the moon gleam a little brighter than it might have normally. A super moon, is created when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit around Earth while being a full moon. This causes the moon to appear larger and a little bit brighter in the night sky. With those two factors combining, quite the midnight show was performed by the moon. As for the “wolf” part of the name, it’s called a “Wolf Moon” because it is the first full moon of the year. What a way to kick off 2019.
There was an odd occurrence during the beautiful red moon, however. During the night, astronomers and observers picked up on a little dot next to the moon that eventually collided with it. Yup, something ran into the moon during the lunar eclipse. A meteorite came without invitation to the party and can be seen in a variety of photos shooting towards the moon. Quite the sight against the red backdrop of the amazing event. This marks the first observed collision of a meteorite and the moon during an eclipse.
The next event observable in North America won’t be for a few years, so it was a nice event while it lasted. So unless you can afford making the trip out to other countries to view such a lunar eclipse, it’ll be a whiles wait. I’ll be right there waiting with you.