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"Wolf Moon" The First Full Moon of 2020 Will Also Coincide With a Lunar Eclipse

"Wolf Moon" The First Full Moon of 2020 Will Also Coincide With a Lunar Eclipse


The so-called “Full Wolf Moon,” which rises Jan. 10, will also coincide with a penumbral lunar eclipse that will be visible to some looking skyward — depending on where you live in the world.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the January full Moon was dubbed the "Wolf" Moon by Native Americans because it occurred at a time of year when wolves would be howling with hunger. 

As eclipses of the moon go, today's Wolf Moon lunar eclipse will be a relatively minor one. The moon will pass behind the Earth, with respect to the sun, dipping through the outermost edge of our planet's shadow in what scientists call a penumbral lunar eclipse. As the Moon passes opposite the Sun it will spend about four hours in the partial shadow of Earth.

The eclipse will be visible primarily from the Eastern Hemisphere, with countries in Europe, Africa and much of Asia in prime viewing position. It will begin at 12:07 p.m. EST (1707 GMT), peak at 2:10 p.m. EST (1910 GMT) and end at 4:12 p.m. EST (2112 GMT). 

If you don't live in the visibility area, there are several webcasts available from the Slooh online observatory, Virtual Telescope Project and night sky site CosmoSapiens for you to choose from. You'll be able to watch some webcasts live on Space.com

Interesting Wolf Facts

1.) Why Do Wolves Howl?

Regardless of where the name Wolf Moon comes from; wolves howl to communicate over long distances both in North America and in Europe. It is a way of saying “here I am” to the rest of the pack or “stay away” to intruders.

During the denning season in spring and early summer, wolves only howl to pack mates. As the late summer moves towards fall, wolves call more and more to neighbors and enemies. While an average howl from a single wolf lasts from 3 to 7 seconds, a chorus by a pack can last from 30 to 120 seconds and longer during the breeding season in February. So wolves are particularly loud and vocal in the first months of the year, which is probably why people associated the month of January with howling wolves.

2.) True love

Once a wolf has found a mate, they tend to stay together for better or worse, through sickness and health, often until death due them part. Of course it is typically only the alpha male and female that breed, leaving the rest of the adult pack members to help rear the young and ensure their survival.

3.) Giant Paws

If you’ve ever seen a true wolf paw print, it’s enough to make the hair on your back stand on ends, as their average foot size is comparable to an adult human hand, at 4 inches wide by 5 inches long.

4.) A BIG Appetite

Wolves can eat a huge amount, as much as 20lbs, in one sitting, thus the saying. The alpha male is first to eat and will devour the most meat out of the pack, followed by other pack members and or other scavengers. Although this is partly to blame for their bad reputation, it is really a survival tactic, as they never know when their next meal will be and often it is days before they eat again.

5.) Roam a Large Territory

They call home to property that sometimes extends up to 1000 square miles. In Canada and Alaska their territory extends 300 to 1,000 square miles, with a more modest 25 to 150 square mile territory in other areas of the country. Hunting and playing in packs as highly social animals, they often travel up to a dozen plus miles a day.

6.) Wolves Are Marathon Runners

Wolves are ultra marathon endurance hunters. They have been known to track and trace their prey for hours well into the night. And they have the added bonus of a high IQ and excellent sense of hearing and smell, all of which they put to good use in rounding up their next meal.

7.) The Wolf Pack

Wolf packs are established according to a strict hierarchy, with a dominant alpha male at the top and an alpha female not far behind. Usually this male and female are the only animals of the pack to breed. Packs consist of between five and ten animals – usually offspring from several years.  All of a pack’s adults help to care for young pups by bringing them food and watching them while others hunt.

8.) Timber Wolf or Common Wolf

The Grey Wolf is known as the Timber Wolf in North America and the White Wolf in the Arctic, or more generally as the Common Wolf.

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Mike "Tech Overlord" Collette
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