The eclipse promises to gain extra publicity because it coincidentally lines up with two other lunar events. The January 31 Full Moon is the second of the month, so it also will be touted as a “Blue Moon.” And it so happens that this is 2018’s second-closest Full Moon, and thus the year’s second largest, which no doubt will compel some people to label it a “Super Moon.”
From North America, the eclipse occurs before dawn and delivers better views to those who live farther west. The eclipse action starts when the Moon first touches the lighter, outer part of Earth’s shadow, called the penumbra, at 5:51 a.m. EST (2:51 a.m. PST). [See the table below for eclipse times in all time zones.] Unfortunately, the penumbra imparts only a subtle darkening to the lunar surface, and few observers will notice more than a dusky shading on the Moon’s western half.
People in the western two-thirds of the continent can view at least some of the total phase, and all of totality is on display west of a line that runs from central North Dakota to New Mexico. Viewers in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington get to witness the concluding partial phases as the Moon exits the umbral shadow.
If you were an astronaut standing on the Moon during totality, you would see Earth eclipsing the Sun. Earth would appear as a dark disk surrounded by a brilliant but thin ring of red — our atmosphere glowing with the light of all the planet’s sunsets and sunrises. This is the light we see bathing the Moon during totality. Although the exact color depends of conditions in Earth’s atmosphere, expect the northern half of the Moon to appear darker because it passes closer to the center of Earth’s shadow.
North America won’t be the only continent to see totality. Viewers across the Pacific Ocean, Australia, and eastern Asia will witness the event on the evening of January 31.