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An astronomical phenomenon

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 2:44 pm

What sounds like an ominous occurrence is really a unique combination of astronomical events. The biggest of these events is the lunar eclipse, the first of 2019. It’s also a total lunar eclipse, and the next won’t be here until 2021. In a lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks the sunlight that normally reaches the moon. The Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, creating a reddish hue, or what some call a “blood moon.”

As for the “wolf moon” portion of the name, it’s called that because it’s the first full moon of the year. According the Old Farmer’s Almanac, this full moon was called the “wolf moon,” because it appeared “when wolves howled outside the villages in hunger.” It could also be because wolves howl more during their mating season, which begins in January.

The night’s moon was also be a “super moon” because it was a full moon that was closer to Earth in its elliptical orbit, also called a perigee. This means that the moon appeared larger and brighter (except during the lunar eclipse) than a regular full moon.

Excerpted from an article published in the January 9 edition of the Northern Neck News

Photo by Angela Dawson