Total Lunar Eclipse | St. Louis Public Radio

Total Lunar Eclipse

The moon passes through Earth's shadow on Sunday night, Jan. 20, 2019.
Greg Munteanu | St. Louis Public Radio

Although wintry skies in the St. Louis region didn’t make for ideal viewing conditions Sunday night as the sun, Earth and moon aligned for a total lunar eclipse, the anticipated celestial event still had many people looking skyward. It also sparked renewed interest in human understanding of the moon.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked with space journalist Rebecca Boyle, lunar scientist Brad Jolliff and St. Louis Public Radio’s Eli Chen about the latest in moon research.

Boyle is a freelance writer whose work has recently appeared in outlets including the New York Times and Scientific American. Jolliff is the Scott Rudolph Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University.

A red total lunar eclipse seen in Greenbelt, Maryland.
NASA Goddard

If weather cooperates, people all over the Western Hemisphere on Sunday will be able to see a “super blood moon” eclipse.

The total lunar eclipse begins at about 8:30 p.m. in the St. Louis area. Totality — when the Earth completely blocks the sun from the moon — will occur after 10:40 p.m., as the moon turns a dull shade of red.

The moon also will appear large, because it will be at a point in its elliptical orbit that’s close to the Earth. Total lunar eclipses happen almost every year, but this exact type of lunar eclipse happens every 18 years, said Brad Jolliff, a professor who studies lunar geochemistry at Washington University.