This Sunday, Jan. 20, marks the midpoint — theoretically — of the Trump administration. It’s also the return of the Super Blood Moon, when the seventh seal is shaken really hard then opened too quickly and foamy rivers of blood explode all over the tablecloth. Set to last for about three hours and change, with the period of totality stretching for an hour and two minutes beginning at 8:41 p.m. Pacific time, the moment of greatest eclipse will occur at 9:16 p.m.
It’s known as a “super blood wolf moon” because four out of five people who witness it will transform into vicious mutant lupine creatures, and also because we liked to give ordinary phenomena dramatic names, like referring to a winter storm as “Harper.” This is the third total lunar eclipse in a row, after the two in January and July 2018. There will not be another total lunar eclipse until May 26, 2021 and May 16, 2022 — both of which will be visible from California.
Yeah, total solar eclipses are amazing, but total lunar eclipses have a lot going for them. There’s none of this “annular” bullshit, everyone on the entire half of the Earth facing the moon can see them, you don’t need special glasses, and they last a long time. The reason the moon is copper-colored and not completely black is because the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light the same way it does when you see the moon rise or set over the ocean. It’s called the Rayleigh effect, but nobody cares.
Here in the Bay Area, it’s probably going to be cloudy or drizzly on Sunday night, so this might all be moot. And, of course, if you were standing on the moon, you’d see an annular eclipse of the sun that would probably be more spectacular. We on Earth are very fortunate in that our only natural satellite and the star that we orbit are basically the same size when viewed from this planet’s surface — for now, anyway, as the moon is gradually moving away. In the rest of the universe, eclipses as we experience them may be quite rare.