Tags: comet | full moon | lunar eclipse

Comet, Full Moon, Lunar Eclipse Offer Celestial Triple Play

Image: Comet, Full Moon, Lunar Eclipse Offer Celestial Triple Play

The moon phases. (Aiyoshi/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 09 Feb 2017 09:58 AM

A comet, full moon, and lunar eclipse will provide stargazers with a rare celestial triple play Friday night and Saturday morning.

A penumbral lunar eclipse, which happens when the moon moves through the outer part of Earth's shadow, will occur Friday evening during a full moon, USA Today reported. Earth will block only a part of the sun's rays from reaching the moon, making it appear slightly darker than usual.'

The penumbral eclipse is expected to happen at 7:43 p.m. Eastern time, 4:43 p.m. Pacific time, and will be visible from Europe, Africa, western Asia and eastern North and South America, USA Today reported.

"There are three kinds of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral," Deborah Byrd, editor-in-chief of the website EarthSky.org wrote. "A penumbral eclipse is very subtle. At no time does a dark bite appear to be taken out of the moon. Instead, at mid-eclipse, observant people will notice a shading on the moon's face."

Comet 45P will make its closest approach to Earth in the early hours of Saturday morning, noted the Slooh telescope service in a Twitter post.

"It'll be visible in the morning sky in the constellation Hercules," NASA said in a statement earlier this month. "The comet then passes through the constellations Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown), Boötes (the Herdsman), Canes Venatici (Boötes' hunting dogs) and Ursa Major. Then on to Leo by the end of February. It moves swiftly – nine degrees each day. It will return again in 2022."

EarthSky.org wrote, though, that the estimated brightness of the comet will be a +7, "well outside the limit for visibility with the unaided eye." The website said skygazers will need binoculars and probably a telescope to see this comet on Saturday.

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A comet, full moon, and lunar eclipse will provide stargazers with a rare celestial triple play Friday night and Saturday morning.
comet, full moon, lunar eclipse
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2017-58-09
Thursday, 09 Feb 2017 09:58 AM
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