Astronomy Club hosts Super Blood Wolf Moon viewing party


Alex Tinkham

Students viewed the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse from the top of the Taub parking garage.

SJ Lasley and Owen Butler

Astronomy buffs and admirers around the Western Hemisphere looked into the night sky on Jan. 20 to witness the highly-anticipated Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse. Over 100 of these viewers were Upper School students at Luna-Palooza, a viewing event hosted by the Astronomy Club that took place atop the Taub Lot parking garage.

“I had heard a lot of people were coming, but I wasn’t sure if people would bail because of the cold weather,” Astronomy Club president Lexie Farnell said. “The turnout definitely surpassed my expectations.”

Farnell, a junior, joined the Astronomy Club in her freshman year, along with fellow juniors William Urdahl and Reeti Mangal. Now, as presidents of the club, the three students strive to spread their knowledge of astronomy to the Upper School.

“It can be difficult to find astronomy-related activities that people are actually able to participate in,” Farnell said. “The fact that our club event garnered this much attention was so cool.”

During the Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse, sunlight shone through Earth’s atmosphere, refracting on dust particles near the red side of the visible light spectrum. This light was cast on the moon, creating a reddish-brown glow. The moon also appeared at perigee — its closest point to Earth — just 59 minutes before the height of the eclipse, which made it seem 13 percent larger.

The last total lunar eclipse occurred on July 27, 2018, and was only visible in parts of Africa and Asia. The Super Blood Wolf Moon was the first total lunar eclipse visible in North America in three and a half years.

“We knew about the eclipse long in advance — the dates are published in astronomy calendars and websites,” Astronomy Club sponsor Dan Friedman said. “We had a school viewing party for one a few years ago, but it was cloudy, and it wasn’t a super moon.”

While some teachers and students who attended the event sat in lawn chairs with blankets to keep warm, others peered through telescopes to view the eclipse. Many brought snacks to the event in addition to those provided by the Astronomy Club, including hot chocolate, star-shaped cookies, brownies and moon pies.

“It was really different from any other club meeting experience,” junior Eleanor Devetski said. “It allowed me to hang out with my friends while still learning about something I had never known about before.”