Astronomy expert available to discuss ‘supermoon’ eclipse


David Ruth

Astronomy expert available to discuss ‘supermoon’ eclipse
Rice U.’s Pat Hartigan available for interviews about Jan. 20 phenomenon

HOUSTON – (Jan. 11, 2019) – Pat Hartigan, Rice University professor of physics and astronomy, is available for news media interviews to discuss the Jan. 20 lunar eclipse.

Pat HartiganThe eclipse will occur between 9:30 p.m. CST Jan. 20 and 12:50 a.m. CST Jan. 21. The moon will be totally immersed in Earth’s shadow – appearing red, also known as a “blood moon” – between 10:41 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. CST.

“The moon will enter the Earth’s shadow during the first hour, and it will look like a bite has been taken out of the full moon,” Hartigan said. “Once fully inside the shadow, the moon usually appears as a dull red color because if you were on the moon you’d simultaneously see all the red sunrises and sunsets on the Earth as sunlight bends through the Earth’s atmosphere on its way to the moon. The last hour is the reverse of the first hour as the moon exits the Earth’s shadow.”

People won’t need any special equipment to see the eclipse, though it can look interesting magnified in binoculars or a telescope, Hartigan said. “A lunar eclipse is a fun event the whole family can enjoy, and gives a nice connection to the natural world. Sitting out in a lawn chair in the back yard is a fine way to experience it.”

Hartigan said this lunar eclipse is special for a few reasons:

  • It occurs at a convenient time of the evening (before midnight) for U.S. observers.
  • The moon’s diameter appears 6 percent larger than normal, a so-called supermoon. About one-quarter of all full moons are supermoons. This is not a big effect, but it’s nice to have and you might enjoy it.
  • The total phase is reasonably long, so you don’t have to worry much about missing it. It can be just as much fun to watch the partial phases as to look at the total.

Hartigan said the next total lunar eclipse visible from the U.S. will occur on May 26, 2021. “But that one only has 15 minutes of totality and occurs at 5 a.m. There is one similar to this one on May 16, 2022. But after that, if you want a supermoon total eclipse visible in the early evening from the U.S., you’ll have to wait until Oct. 30, 2050.”

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7. Rice also has a university backdrop, 1080p webcam, light kit and wireless mic for Skype interviews.

To interview Hartigan, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations, at or 713-348-6327.


Related materials:

Pat Hartigan p
hoto courtesy of Rice University.

Video courtesy of NASA.

Hartigan’s websites with lunar eclipse details:

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.