How to Watch the Only Total Lunar Eclipse This Year in Hawai‘i
If you miss it on Sunday, Jan. 20, you'll have to wait until 2021.
This was the first of two total lunar eclipses in 2014. This year, we only have the opportunity to see one.
Photo: NASA Ames Research Center | Brian Day
There are usually about two to four lunar eclipses every year. But the only one Hawai‘i will see in 2019 will be especially great. On Sunday, Jan. 20, we’ll see a total lunar eclipse, the only one this year. And it will happen when the moon is a so-called supermoon—meaning that it is full at a time when it is closest to Earth, so the moon appears bigger than normal. Others are calling it the epically long “super blood wolf moon” because: it is super, lunar eclipses are sometimes called “blood moons” because the moon appears red, full moons in January are referred to as “wolf moons” in some cultures because wolfs would howl at it in winter, and, I'm guessing, because werewolves and that genre are on trend.
We went to the Bishop Museum for tips for catching this early evening event.
First of all, head out during sunset. The Bishop Museum says the moon is in the full shadow of the earth shortly after it rises. So this year, in fact, the eclipse will begin while the moon is still below our horizon. Here’s the timeline:
6:14 p.m.—The sun will begin setting.
6:41 p.m.—The total eclipse begins.
7:12 p.m.—Greatest point of the eclipse.
7:43 p.m.—Total eclipse ends.
The total lunar eclipse in July, 2000 was almost two hours long.
Photo: fred espenak | NASA's goddard space flight center
Keep in mind, the moon will only be about 13 degrees above the horizon. The Bishop Museum’s website explains this as about the height of a fist, with the thumb not tucked in, held straight in front of you. (Note that a shaka, worded on Mainland sites as “a clenched fist with the thumb and little finger extended,” is about 25 degrees.) So you will need to be in a place where you have a clear, uninterrupted view east to the horizon.
Some weekend weather reports are calling for possible showers, so clouds could cover the moment. Earthsky.org says you can still watch it through the Virtual Telescope Project (just be ready to click away a few pop-up ads).
If you miss it, mark your calendar for the next total lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021.
Moongazers take note, we'll see supermoons also on Feb. 19 and March 21 this year.