Friday, May 7, 2021

Total lunar eclipse occurs on Jan. 31


A total lunar eclipse will occur on Wednesday, January 31, and be visible partially from Frederick, Maryland, with a little more totality from Peoria, Illinois, and in its entirety from points in the Pacific Ocean, such as Hawaii, The Q-Review, the student newspaper at Quincy Senior High School in Illinois, reports.

A total eclipse, from a very dark location with no light pollution (iStock)

“As some people may know, at the end of the month, there will be a blue moon, total lunar eclipse, and a supermoon all occurring at the same time,” writes Bailey Gasparovic in her article entitled “Super Moon Trilogy Takes Place at 6:56 AM.” “Due to the total solar eclipse that happened earlier this school year, many teachers and staff members are also excited for this astronomical event.”

After this eclipse, the moon will continue revolving around the Earth and head into a partial solar eclipse on February 15. It won’t be visible from the US.

A “blue moon” refers to the second full moon in a calendar month, and those aren’t rare: we’ll have another blue moon in March. Because of the color the moon may take on during a total eclipse, this lunar eclipse has been dubbed a “red blue moon” eclipse.

But January 31 also marks the event of a “supermoon,” which means a full moon that is closer to the Earth in its orbit than normal, within about 224,000 miles (361,000 kilometers). The moon’s orbit takes it closest to Earth this time around at about 7:27 AM Central Time.

But what’s rare about this one is that we don’t get many lunar eclipses of a blue moon. The last one was on December 30, 1982, some 35 years ago.

Because of the moon’s orbit, we get about two blue moons every year. We get about three lunar eclipses every two years, and those eclipses always occur, by definition, during a full moon. But the moon doesn’t find itself totally within the Earth’s umbral shadow too often when those two eventualities coincide. Happy viewing!

Photos from NASA and Voxitatis

From Baltimore, about an hour after sunset (no totality at our location) (Voxitatis)

From the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, 3:25 AM Wednesday, PST (

From the Armstrong Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, California, 4 AM Wednesday, PST (

Local circumstances of the eclipse (all times local)

Frederick, Maryland, Wednesday morning:

  • Duration of eclipse: 1 hour, 26 minutes, 28 seconds
  • Penumbral eclipse begins: 5:51 AM
  • Partial begins: 6:48 AM
  • Maximum (partial): 7:10:57 AM
  • Moonset: 7:18 AM

Peoria, Illinois, Wednesday morning:

  • Duration of eclipse: 2 hours, 19 minutes, 42 seconds (19 minutes of totality)
  • Penumbral eclipse begins: 4:51 AM
  • Partial begins: 5:48 AM
  • Totality begins: 6:52 AM
  • Maximum: 7:06:20 AM
  • Moonset: 7:11 AM

Hilo, Hawaii, Wednesday early morning:

  • Duration of eclipse: 5 hours, 17 minutes, 16 seconds (1:16:04 of totality)
  • Penumbral eclipse begins: 12:51 AM
  • Partial begins: 1:48 AM
  • Full begins: 2:52 AM
  • Maximum: 3:29:51 AM
  • Full ends: 4:08 AM
  • Partial ends: 5:11 AM
  • Penumbral ends: 6:08 AM
Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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