Prenumbral Lunar Eclipse Friday Night To Be Shadow on Moon's Surface

Image: Prenumbral Lunar Eclipse Friday Night To Be Shadow on Moon's Surface Example of a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Friday, 18 Oct 2013 09:33 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A lunar eclipse will occur Friday night into early Saturday and be visible to most living in the eastern United States and Canada as well as most of Europe and some in the upper tip of northeast Africa.

Don't expect however to see a blood-red moon as is the most common image associated with lunar eclipses, rather observers will likely witness a partial shadow cast on the moon's surface this time around, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The reason is because this Friday's lunar eclipse is a penumbral eclipse and not a total lunar eclipse, which are responsible for producing the darkened, red moons so often featured in science fiction and horror films.

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There are three types of lunar eclipses: total lunar eclipses, partial eclipses, and penumbral eclipses.

In a total lunar eclipse, the earth's shadow completely covers the moon due to the earth, moon, and sun being perfectly aligned, giving way to a haunting reddish color that covers the moon's entire surface area. Depending on the orbits, a total lunar eclipse can last between a few minutes long or up to several hours.

Partial eclipses take place when the earth, moon and sun are slightly out of alignment, giving way to partial shadow on the surface of the moon that "appears to take a bite out of the moon," as described by Space.com.

The least dramatic of the three types of lunar eclipses, which millions will witness in the skies above them Friday night, is the penumbral eclipse. In this lunar eclipse, the earth, moon and sun are further out of alignment than the partial eclipse, giving way to an even less pronounced shadow on the moon's surface because the sun is even less partially blocked.

For those living in the Northeast United States and Canada, the best time to see the penumbral eclipse on Friday will be at 7:50 p.m. EDT, Accuweather.com reported.

Cloud covering will give way to poor visibility in large swaths of the Northern United States and Canada, which is why the lunar eclipse on Friday will only be visible in the Northeast of the continent, according to Accuweather.com.

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In contrast to solar eclipses, in which the moon passes between the sun and the earth and where the sun's rays can still harm one's eyes, lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view without the use of safety eye equipment.

Related stories:

'Pink Full Moon' Thursday To Look Normal When Lunar Gazing From US

NASA's Mars Rover Spies Solar Eclipse

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