‘Wolf Moon’ lunar eclipse delights skygazers

A view of the ‘wolf moon’, the first full moon of 2020, over St Mary’s Lighthouse at Whitley Bay in Northumberland Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA

Astronomy enthusiasts were treated to the first full Moon of 2020 on Friday evening, also known as the “Wolf Moon”, which coincided with a lunar eclipse.

Skygazers witnessed a penumbral lunar eclipse, with the Moon passing through the earth’s shadow.

Nasa said: "The planet Mercury will be passing on the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth, called superior conjunction.

"Because Mercury orbits inside of the orbit of Earth, it will be shifting from the morning sky to the evening sky and will begin emerging from the glow of dusk on the western horizon in late January 2020."

What happens during the eclipse. Credit: PA Graphics

The phenomenon saw the Moon move into Earth’s penumbra, or outer shadow, causing the earth’s natural satellite to look darker than normal.

But those expecting the Moon to turn red, a phenomenon dubbed the Blood Moon, were disappointed.

The wolf moon rises above Menwith Hill near Harrogate, North Yorkshire Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Ed Bloomer, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “Unfortunately, we won’t get one of those until 2021, though there are another three penumbral eclipses to look forward to in 2020.”

January's Wolf Moon is nicknamed so after Algonquin tribes of the northern and eastern states of America named the first full Moon of winter the Wolf Moon, from the packs of wolves that howled amid the deep snows of winter.

The next full Moon will occur on February 9, which is also known as Snow Moon.