The new year kicks off with a total eclipse of the Moon on January 20–21, 2019. Here are highlights of the “Great American total lunar eclipse”—plus, more night sky highlights for January.
Sky Watch January 2019
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac
Venus and Jupiter Meet at Sunrise
- Throughout January, Venus and Jupiter dominate the eastern skies before the sunrise.
- Venus is now at its brightest of the year, sinking lower at first light but Jupiter is higher; their opposing motions cause them to meet from the 20th to the 26th.
- Their conjunction is on the 22nd with bright Venus north or Jupiter, which passes just 2.5 degrees south. The two bright worlds rank as the 3rd-brightest and 4th-brightest bodies in the sky (after the Sun and Moon). Venus is far brighter.
- Mars is the only bright planet in the evening. At nightfall all month, Mars in Pisces is due south at a bright magnitude 0.
- By month’s end, Saturn becomes visible as a “morning star” before sunup.
Great American Total Lunar Eclipse!
- A total lunar eclipse on January 20, visible from the entire United States and Canada, begins at 10:34 p.m., with totality starting at 11:41 p.m. Unlike a solar eclipse, which follows a narrow path (and may not be visible to most people), a total eclipse of the Moon can often be observed from anywhere on Earth where it’s nighttime! See all 2019 Eclipse Dates.
- Lunar eclipses only happen during full Moons; this January 2019 total eclipse of the Moon will appear bigger and brighter than average making it a so-called Supermoon.
- The Earth’s dark shadow will move over the bright disk of the Moon; our planet will block the Sun’s light while it is between the Sun and Moon, causing the Moon to turn an orangish-red hue. In popular culture, this has been nicknamed the “Blood Moon.”
- So, I guess you’re going to hear it called a “Supermoon Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse”? Or, perhaps it will be nicknamed a “Super Blood Moon Eclipse”? No matter! This will be the last total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021 so take time to look up at this celestial phenomenon.