How to watch the total eclipse of the Moon on January 20-21, 2019

The whole of North America and South America will get the chance to see a total eclipse of the Moon on the night of January 20th-21st, 2019. The spectacle will occur when the Moon travels into the shadow cast by the Earth in space.

A sequence of images of a previous lunar eclipse, showing the Moon at the start, middle and end of totality. The middle image was exposed longer to bring out the colour within the shadow. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

The total eclipse is also visible from much of the UK, Ireland and western Europe, in the early morning hours of January 21st. None of it is visible from India, the Far East, or Australia.

Where the total eclipse is visible, onlookers will get the chance to see the bright Full Moon slowly dim and then become a deep red or coppery colour during the total phase of the eclipse.

Exactly how dark the Moon becomes depends on how much dust there is in the Earth’s upper atmosphere because the Moon will be shining purely due to sunlight shining through our atmosphere and scattered onto the lunar surface. The scattered sunlight is at the red end of the spectrum.

The Moon always grows extremely dim compared to the glare of a Full Moon, and you can see the sky become much darker as it does so. More about what’s in this month’s night sky here.

Unlike a total eclipse of the Sun, which is only visible along a narrow track on the Earth, a total eclipse of the Moon is visible from anywhere where the Moon is above the horizon – that is around half the Earth at a time.

Lunar eclipses can only happen at Full Moon when the Sun, Earth and Moon are lined up.

The Moon will be fully immersed in Earth’s dark umbra, the circular main shadow in space, for just over one hour.

Our diagram showing key moments as the Moon moves through the shadow of the Earth in space. Note that the Moon moves from right to left through the shadow as it orbits the Earth, but it will appear to move in the opposite direction across the sky as the Earth rotates. (These directions are reversed if you are in the southern hemisphere). Image credit: Skymania

What happens when!

These are the key times during the eclipse, given in Universal Time (UT). You will need to subtract 5 hours for Eastern Standard Time (EST) and 8 hours for Pacific Standard Time (PST). Use Google to check other local time zones against UT.

The Moon will enter Earth’s lighter outer shadow, known as the penumbra, at 02.36 UT (P1). It will start to enter the darker inner shadow, or umbra, just before 03.33 UT (U1) and will be fully immersed in it by 04.42 UT (U2). At 05.43 UT, the Moon starts to leave the umbral shadow (U3), and it will have exited completely by 06.51 UT (U4). It then passes through the penumbra again before the eclipse ends at 07.489 UT (P4).

Remember that the eclipse begins on the evening of January 20th from U.S. time zones, but on the 21st if you are in Europe.

Event Time: U.T. E.S.T. P.S.T.
Moon enters penumbra (P1) 02:34:43 21:34:43 18:34:43
Moon enters umbra (U1) 03:33:16 22:33:16 19:33:16
Totality begins (U2) 04:40:30 23:40:30 20:40:30
Maximum eclipse 05:11:59 00:11:59 21:11:59
Totality ends (U3) 05:43:30 00:43:30 21:43:30
Moon leaves umbra (U4) 06:50:44 01:50:44 22:50:44
Moon leaves penumbra (P4) 07:49:15 02:49:15 23:49:15

Related: Our guide to eclipses of the Moon.

Related: Guide to the Moon

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