Partial lunar eclipse expected tonight

Posted February 11, 2017

Stargazers are in for a triple treat: Friday night will feature a type of lunar eclipse, the Full Snow Moon, and even a comet. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon crosses the Earth's shadow, causing a slight dimming on the moon's lower half. But this will be a penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning that the outer part of Earth's shadow will make the moon look darker than usual.

Meanwhile, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will be visible in the predawn hours by skywatchers using binoculars or small telescopes between Thursday and Sunday, in the constellation Hercules in the eastern sky.

Unfortunately, much of the U.S. East Coast is forecasted to be blanketed by clouds.

"The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon", the almanac reports.

It is thought that the lunar eclipse will peak at 12.43am before drawing to an end at about 2.53am in the early hours of Saturday.

The February Full Moon is relevant to the Apache Indians and American Indians and is known as the Frost-Sparkling-in-the-Sun Moon by them, while the Omaha Indians call it the Moon When Geese Come Home. In fact, according to, it's a bit more subtle and much harder to see than either a total or partial lunar eclipse.

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The best viewing time will be around 8 p.m., he said.

First, the full moon and eclipse.

The green comet, which visits our neck of the solar system every five years, will whiz within 7.7 million miles of Earth at a speedy clip of about 14.2 miles per second.

Then early Saturday morning, be sure to catch Comet 45P, which will zoom past Earth.

According to The Washington Post, the comet will make its closest approach to the planet at 10:30 p.m. ET, however, it will not be visible to the naked eye.

So don't forget to get out your telescopes or binoculars and take a look at the ski Friday night.