2/10/17

Lunar Eclipse, Full Moon, and Comet... All Tonight!

You might not be aware, but tonight's lunar eclipse is a penumbral eclipse, and you might also not be aware that a penumbral eclipse doesn’t look very dramatic. 

You will probably want to check it out anyway. In that case, simply look at the full Moon at 7:44 PM eastern time, 6:44 PM central time, or 5:44 PM mountain time. The Moon will be low in the east, then look more closely.... you will see that its upper left edge is a bit darker than the rest of the Moon, and that it’s unevenly illuminated... that’s it! 

The moon’s left part is closest to earth’s dark umbral shadow where there is no sunlight at all. So it looks a bit darker. 

Seeing this might be exciting.

Yes, a comet will also be visible tonight, but not to the naked eye, and not from city skies. This is Comet 45 P, which at magnitude 8.2 is barely visible through binoculars. In fact, the brilliance of the full Moon tonight will make it very hard or even impossible to see no matter how good your binoculars are! 

You can wait ten days until the Moon is absent at 3:00 AM when the comet is up (in the constellation Hercules), but then the comet will have lost half its light, and will be closer to a dismal magnitude nine.

Nonetheless, tonight is a perfect night to have us cast a spell for you! 

No comments: