Published: Sat, February 11, 2017
Life&Culture | By Kristin Armstrong

Lunar eclipse, comet, full moon happening Friday night

Unless heavy clouds spoil the party, the whole gorgeous display should be visible across North America, as well as Europe, Africa and most of Asia. Friday night's full moon will shine down on deep snow cover in that part of the country.

The lunar eclipse will be most noticeable as the moon rises on Friday night-but don't expect the moon to completely disappear from the sky.

While penumbral eclipses can be hard to see and don't look almost as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse, in which the moon passes through the darkest, central part of Earth's shadow, Friday's penumbral eclipse will be darker and more noticeable than most lunar eclipses of its kind. The moon will pass through the earth's outer shadow, causing a subtle shading across the surface of the moon.

The top part of the moon will show the brightest color, as it will only miss the Earth's full shadow by about 100 miles.

After mid-eclipse, the graying begins to fade to the moon's normal brightness. The greatest dimming occurs at 6:44 p.m. Friday, with the eclipse ending at 8:53 p.m. This event is called a lunar eclipse.

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While the next total lunar eclipse won't happen until 2019, skygazers can expept big meteor showers toward the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, Slooh, a public online observatory, will livestream the eclipse and the comet for all to see. Using a small telescope or a pair of binoculars should let people get a view of the comet in the pre-dawn skies between Thursday and Sunday.

The New Year comet has been visible around the world since the end of last year and was seen on New Year's Eve.

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, named after three astronomers who discovered it in 1948, is shooting by Earth between Thursday and Sunday. But if you want to hunt for it, point your specs towards the constellation Hercules in the eastern sky just before dawn.

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