Skygazers are set to be treated to a total lunar eclipse this weekend, on top of a “super blood wolf moon.”
The cosmic event is the convergence of a few stellar lunar events — an eclipse coinciding with a supermoon turning an eerie blood red.
The eclipse will be visible to much of the Western Hemisphere, including Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America on Sunday, Jan. 20, and finish early Monday, Jan. 21 (ET time).
Here’s what you need to know.
If you’re planning to watch the lunar eclipse, you may have to stay up a late.
It begins around 9:12 p.m. ET on Jan. 20. However, you probably won’t be able to see any movement until the first phase of the eclipse, which is set to happen at 10:34 p.m. This is when the moon starts to get a little darker.
Around 11:41 p.m., the full eclipse slowly sets in and then the maximum eclipse is set to take place at 12:12 a.m. Jan. 21. The total eclipse will end at 12:44 a.m.
Unlike a solar eclipse, it’s completely safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye.
Why is it called a “super blood wolf moon”?
A lunar eclipse, which only happens during full moons, takes place when the Earth lines up between the sun and the moon, blocking out the sun’s light and casting a shadow on the lunar surface.
The supermoon portion of this event happens when the full moon is at the closest point of orbit to the Earth (called a perigee). It is around about 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal. That is why it appears slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon, according to NASA.
This is the first of three supermoons in 2019, according to EarthSky. The second one takes place Feb. 19 and the third on March 21.
WATCH: Double supermoon in January a rare event
The blood moon part happens when the bright moon creeps directly through the Earth’s shadow, causing it to turn to gold, copper or even a dark red.
The colour depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere, NASA said on its website.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the term wolf moon comes from Indigenous culture, as the moon appeared when wolves howleed in hunger outside the villages.
When is the next super lunar eclipse?
Those that miss this eclipse will need to wait until May 26, 2021, for the next opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse.
The next partial lunar eclipse will be this summer, on July 16, but will be visible only in Africa and portions of Asia.
— With files from Global News’ Jesse Ferreras