Supermoon over US capitol September 27, 2015. Photo: Public Domain/CCO.

What is a supermoon? It’s a full moon that appears larger to the eye than usual because the moon is at the closest point to the earth in its elliptical orbit.

There will be three supermoons early in 2019. The first is the night of January 20-21 when the full Wolf Moon will also appear reddish, giving it the additional name of Blood Moon. The two other supermoons this year fall on February 19 and March 21, with the February 19th full moon being the closest and largest full supermoon of 2019.

The Full Blood Wolf Moon coincides with a total lunar eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, sunlight falling on the surface of the moon is blocked by Earth as it passes between the sun and the moon, casting a reddish shadow across the moon (thus giving it the name Blood Moon).

There won’t be another total lunar eclipse until May 16, 2021.

 

Graphic courtesy Lunar Eclipse 2019 on Facebook.

Here are local (Mountain Time) viewing times for the , assuming the clouds part and skies clear:Partial umbral eclipse begins:

8:34 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse begins: 9:41 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Greatest eclipse: 10:12 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Total lunar eclipse ends: 10:43 p.m. (January 20, 2019)
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 11:51 p.m. (January 20, 2019)

What if our skies don’t clear to allow a good view? You still have options! You can watch live video from the website Slooh, (membership required but they offer a free 30-day trial, or try their YouTube channel for viewing the 2019 total lunar eclipse).

Supermoon on September 28, 2015. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The following is a listing of all of 2019’s full moons and their names, excerpted from an article by Joe Rao on the website Space.com.

Amid the frigid cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. The Full Wolf Moon was also known as the Old Moon or the Moon after Yule in other cultures. In some tribes this was the Full Snow Moon; most applied that name to the next moon.

Usually the heaviest snows fall in this month. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some tribes this was known as the Full Hunger Moon.

In this month the ground softens and the earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter, or the Full Crust Moon because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation.

The grass pink or wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and — among coastal tribes — the Full Fish Moon, when the shad come upstream to spawn.

Flowers are now abundant everywhere. This moon was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.

Strawberry-picking season peaks during this month. Europeans called this the Rose Moon.

This month is when the new antlers of buck deer push out from their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. The moon was also called the Full Thunder Moon, thunderstorms now being most frequent. Sometimes it’s also called the Full Hay Moon.

This moon marks when this large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water like Lake Champlain are most readily caught. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon — because when the moon rises it looks reddish through sultry haze — or the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Traditionally, this designation goes to the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal (fall) equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September, but (on average) once or twice a decade it will fall in early October. At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon.

With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it’s now time to hunt. Since the fields have been reaped, hunters can ride over the stubble and can more easily see the fox, as well as other animals, which can be caught for a thanksgiving banquet after the harvest.

At this point in the year, it’s time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. It’s also called the Frosty Moon.

On occasion, this moon was also called the Moon before Yule. December is also the month the winter cold fastens its grip. Sometimes this moon is referred to as the Full Long Nights Moon, which is an an appropriate name because the nights are now indeed long and the moon is above the horizon a long time. This particular full moon makes its highest arc across the sky because it’s diametrically opposite to the low sun.

(Cover photo: supermoon lunar eclipse over Denver capital building, September 27, 2015; NASA.)

About the author

Rebecca Wallick

Rebecca is a freelance writer and publisher living near McCall, Idaho. A Seattle native and recovering attorney, she much prefers the quiet, slow pace, and distinct seasons of the West Central Mountains, enjoying the skiing, hiking and running opportunities provided by the nearby Payette National Forest. Rebecca is a Contributing Editor with Bark magazine, and the author of Growing Up Boeing: The Early Jet Age Through the Eyes of a Test Pilot’s Daughter (Feb 2014).

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