The first full moon of the New Year will also feature a total lunar eclipse. The entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America. That is, of course, if the weather cooperates.

Breaking it down, a lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow. Sunday’s eclipse will start around 6:36 p.m. when the Moon passes through the Earth’s outer shadow, called the penumbra. The eclipse will peak when the Moon moves into Earth’s darkest shadow, the umbra, from 9:13 p.m. to 9:43 p.m.

A not-to-be missed event happens right about then, according to Douglas Christensen of the Stockton Astronomical Society. He says as the Moon just barely exits the umbra shadow around 9:43 p.m., there is an “explosion of light.” This happens because our eyes have adjusted to the dark Moon so as the leading edge of the Moon emerges from the shadow into sunlight it appears extra bright.

Christensen also says a lunar eclipse happens about every 177 days or every sixth full moon.

Northern California folks will likely have too many clouds to see this celestial event. However, if the weather clears The Stockton Astronomical Society along with volunteers from the Oak Grove Docent Council will be holding a viewing event at the Oak Grove Regional Park in Stockton on Sunday. This all gets going around 6 p.m.