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"Super blood wolf moon," total lunar eclipse put on show in night sky

"Super blood wolf moon" to light up the sky

A rare total lunar eclipse unfolded late Sunday night into Monday, Eastern Standard Time, as the moon, Earth and sun lined up, and with a bonus: a "super blood wolf moon."

According to Space.com, it was the first total lunar eclipse visible from the majority of the U.S. in 19 years, and the first such celestial event visible from North America in three years. The next one will be in May 2021.

The Reuters news agency reported, "The best viewing of the one-hour total eclipse was from North and South America, with as many as 2.8 billion people able to see it from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, West Africa and northernmost Russia."

But, Reuters noted, many U.S. viewing parties had to be scrapped due to icy roadways from the deep freeze that descended on much of the Midwest and Northeast.

Why is it called a "super blood wolf moon"?

The super blood wolf moon is combination of three lunar events at once. A supermoon -- it was 2019's first -- is when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit during its full phase, making it appear bigger and brighter. Wolf moon is a Native American name for the first full moon of the year. A blood moon occurs with a total lunar eclipse when the sun, Earth and moon all line up and the shadow of the Earth casts a reddish glow on its lone natural satellite.

How long did this lunar eclipse last?

The lunar event lasted about four hours, beginning at 9:36 p.m EST Sunday and ending about 1:50 a.m. Monday. The beginning of the total eclipse phase occured at 11:41 p.m. ET, according to NASA. The duration of the "totality" phase -- when the moon ws completely engulfed in Earth's shadow - -was 62 minutes.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which people need special protective glasses to view safely, it was perfectly safe to look up at the lunar eclipse with the naked eye.

If you missed the Sunday-Monday space show,  there will be four more eclipses this year, including a big solar eclipse to be visible from South America in July, according to CNET

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