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story.lead_photo.caption The shadow of Earth makes its way across the face of a super moon, seen east of Rogers on Wednesday Jan. 31 2018. The eclipse was a trifecta of sorts. The full moon seen Wednesday morning was a blue moon because it was the second full moon in a month. It was a super moon because it is at its closest point to Earth during its orbit. The lunar eclipse gave the moon a reddish tint, called a blood moon. The conditions last aligned in 1866. - Photo by Flip Putthoff

Trust scientists when they say the words "super wolf blood" are going to make your weekend better.

Those words are what make tonight's total lunar eclipse more special than most.

Tonight's eclipse will feature a moon that is closer to the Earth than usual (known as a "supermoon"), with a hint of red (known as a "blood moon"), and it is happening in the cold days of January, when some American Indian tribes refer to a full moon as a "wolf moon" because of howling wolves.

Skies will mostly be clear across the southern United States, leaving much of the rest of the nation -- where clouds are expected -- envious.

Arkansans who plan to catch the "super blood wolf moon" will need to wear lots of layers to be able to fully appreciate the 62-minute totality, meteorologist Travis Shelton said.

Shelton, who works for the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said temperatures will be in the low 30s for most of Arkansas tonight and in the upper 20s for those in northern Arkansas. Wind should be light, he said.

"It's pretty cold, but it looks pretty clear," Shelton said.

Watchers should be prepared to stay up late.

The eclipse begins at 8:36 p.m., but it doesn't reach totality until 10:41 p.m. The maximum eclipse will occur at 11:12:14 p.m. The eclipse ends at 1:48:02 a.m.

"This one is particularly good," Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan told The Associated Press. "It not only is a supermoon and it's a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long."

This eclipse also will occur high overhead, in the highest section of the zodiac, according to the Farmer's Almanac.

Unlike a solar eclipse, this one is viewable without special eye protection. In a total solar eclipse, the moon obscures the sun for viewers on Earth. In a total lunar eclipse, Earth obscures the sun from the moon.

During totality, the moon will grow redder when the only light that reaches the moon's surface -- for viewers on Earth -- will be from the edges of the Earth's atmosphere, according to NASA. The term "blood moon" refers to that and sometimes to when the moon appears reddish because of other substances in the air, such as dust, smoke or haze.

Before totality, portions of the moon will be obscured as the Earth passes between the sun and moon.

The last super blood moon total lunar eclipse that was visible in North America was obscured for much of Arkansas because of cloud cover. That was Sept. 27, 2015.

Cities across the country have planned eclipse-viewing events for tonight, although none appear to be scheduled for Little Rock or other large cities in Arkansas.

In ancient times, lunar eclipses were often feared or believed to signal pending or needed transformation. When understanding of the eclipse phenomenon spread, Christopher Columbus once used his knowledge of a coming lunar eclipse to manipulate a Caribbean tribe into continuing to feed his crew.

The next total eclipse will be in 2021.

The total eclipse should be visible, weather permitting, throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Portugal, Norway and portions of Spain, France, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Western Sahara and Mauritania, according to NASA.

The rest of the world will be turned too close to the sun, going about their Mondays, with the exception of Hawaii and westernmost portions of the Alaskan peninsula, where it will still be Sunday.

Hawaii and westernmost portions of the Alaskan peninsula will see a partial lunar eclipse, as will Africa (except most of Madagascar), Europe and the Middle East. Japan, part of New Zealand and eastern Pacific islands also will see partial eclipses.

This will be the first of three full supermoons this year, according to the AP. A moon is a supermoon when it is on the part of its orbit that is closest to Earth. Tonight's moon will be about 222,000 miles away. The Feb. 19 supermoon will be a bit closer, and the one March 20 will be the farthest.

State Desk on 01/20/2019

Print Headline: Eclipse tonight is super unique; Arkansas skies clear for blood moon

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