GRIFFITH PARK (CBSLA) – Dozens of excited stargazers packed the Griffith Observatory Sunday night to get a look at the rare “super blood wolf moon,” the last total lunar eclipse viewable in the Southland for the next two years.
Although the lunar eclipse was visible throughout North America with the naked eye, the Griffith Observatory provided telescopes with assistance from employees and local volunteers for an even better view.
The super blood wolf moon is a combination of three events at once. A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit. A blood moon is a total lunar eclipse in which the sun’s rays give it a reddish tinge. A Wolf Moon is the Native American name for the first full moon of the year.
“The super part is somewhat rare, the moon needs to be within a day or so of its closest position, and the orbit’s a month long, so that’s pretty rare,” astronomer David Reitzel told CBS2. “And then eclipses happen only a couple times a year, and you have to be on the right side of the earth to see it. So tonight is a bit of a rare event, and folks should enjoy it.”
Unlike a solar eclipse, eye protection is not required for viewing.
According to the National Geographic, “This lunar eclipse happens to coincide with the wolf moon, the traditional name for the January full moon. What’s more, the moon on Jan. 20 will be unusually close to Earth and so will be slightly bigger and brighter, making it a so-called supermoon.” Hence, the unusual moniker.
“A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow. The disk of the full Moon slowly moves in the dark shadow, and the bright Moon grows dim,” officials of the Griffith Observatory said in a statement.
The moon didn’t go completely dark, but glowed a slightly red tint as “a result of sunlight being filtered and bent through the Earth’s atmosphere,” similar to a sunset.
The first visible signs of the moon moving into the Earth’s shadow was at 7:33 p.m. Sunday. The moon reached maximum eclipse at 9:12 p.m. and remained as such until 9:43 p.m.
The next total lunar eclipse will not be visible in Los Angeles until May 26, 2021.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)