The total lunar eclipse of July 27 2018. Picture: PIETER VAN DER MERWE
The total lunar eclipse of July 27 2018. Picture: PIETER VAN DER MERWE

SA will have a brief glimpse of the only total lunar eclipse of 2019 on Monday morning, which will coincide with a Super Moon.

The earth will move in between the sun and the moon casting its shadow on the lunar face from about 4.35am on Monday with the event expected to reach its full magnitude shortly before 6am.

While South Africans witnessed the longest total lunar eclipse of the century in July 2018, chief scientist at the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) Dr Pieter Kotze says the Americas will have the clearest view of this year’s event.

South Africans, on the other hand, might only get a glimpse as the peak of the event occurs after the moon has set below the horizon. “As the Moon is near the horizon at this time, it is  recommended to go to a high point or finding an unobstructed area with free sight to west-northwest for the best view of the eclipse,” Kotze said.

Monday’s eclipse will also only be penumbral for SA, as the graphic below indicates. “It can be observed as a penumbral lunar eclipse, which can be a bit hard to see as the shadowed part is only a little bit fainter than the rest of the Moon,” said Kotze.

A graph of which sections of the Earth will be able to view the lunar eclipse on Monday, January 21 2019. Picture: Nasa
A graph of which sections of the Earth will be able to view the lunar eclipse on Monday, January 21 2019. Picture: Nasa

While not necessarily the spectacle that SA witnessed last winter, the eclipse will nevertheless be special given that it coincides with a Super Moon.

Kotze said the Moon will be closest to the earth during the eclipse at about 357,344km away, making it 10% “bigger and brighter” than a normal full moon.

Because of the reddish colour, the Moon is expected to take on during the eclipse and the fact that it will be the first full moon of the year, some have referred to it as a Super Blood Wolf Moon.

According to Nasa’s roster, the next eclipse, though partial, is expected to take place in July.

vandermerwep@businesslive.co.za