South America to be treated to Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse on Sunday night

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
January 20, 2019, 11:25:26 PM EST


A total lunar eclipse will be seen across the entirety of South America on Sunday night, marking the final such occurrence of this decade.

While millions of people in North America will have to contend with harsh cold and a winter storm while trying to view the eclipse, summer weather will make for more comfortable viewing across much of South America.

The best viewing conditions are expected across parts of Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, and include major metropolitan areas such as Asunción, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. The time of maximum eclipse in all of these cities will be 2:12 a.m. local time.

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These locations can expect clear skies to prevail for much of the overnight hours, bringing the best chance to view the total eclipse.

Overnight temperatures will fall from around 25 C (77 F) in the evening to 17 C (63 F) before daybreak in Buenos Aires.

An overnight low of 16 C (61 F) is also expected in Montevideo, while a muggy night is expected around Asunción, where the temperature will fall only to around 20 C (68 F).

A mostly clear sky is also anticipated across central Chile, allowing those in Santiago to view the eclipse. Temperatures will remain comfortable throughout the night with a low of 15 C (59 F).

Less-than-ideal viewing is expected in and around São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where clouds can ruin the show. Showers and thunderstorms that erupt around São Paulo during the afternoon of Sunday will be dissipating in the evening.

Poor viewing is expected from northern and western Brazil to Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and southern Colombia due to mostly cloudy skies and the risk for rainfall.

total lunar eclipse gif

This animation shows what the Moon looks like during a total lunar eclipse. (Credit: NASA)


Sunday night’s total lunar eclipse will appear similar to those in the past but has been given the unofficial nickname of the "super blood wolf moon."

“Although it's a bit of a silly-sounding name, it does have a basis in some real phenomena,” said Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University.

The term "blood moon" has emerged in recent years due to the color the moon turns during the height of a total lunar eclipse.

“‘Blood Moon' is not a term used in astronomy. It’s more of a popular phrase, perhaps because it sounds so dramatic. It simply refers to a total lunar eclipse,” according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website.

This eclipse also falls during the first supermoon of 2019, when the moon appears slightly larger than normal.

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Step outside now to see the last total lunar eclipse of the decade

Preceding the terms ‘supermoon’ and ‘blood moon,’ a Full Wolf Moon is simply the name bestowed upon January’s full moon.

“In Native American and early Colonial times, the full moon for January was called the Full Wolf Moon. It appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac reported.

These three terms have been combined to form a long-winded nickname for the upcoming lunar eclipse.

No special equipment or glasses are needed to view the lunar eclipse, but give yourself some time to adjust to the lighting of the sky in your area.

“A pair of basic binoculars would be fun; you'll definitely get more out of the experience,” Scharf said.

Binoculars or a telescope will reveal more details on the moon’s surface, such as smaller craters speckled across its surface.

The eclipse will also bring a window for photographers to take breathtaking pictures of the night sky, as the eclipsed moon will greatly reduce the amount of natural light pollution filling the sky.

The darkened sky will also make it easier to spot some stray shooting stars.

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