Stargazers’ delight: Lunar eclipse, comet, and ‘Snow Moon’ in one incredible night

Stargazers are in for a triple treat: Friday night will feature a type of lunar eclipse, the Full Snow Moon, and even a comet. 

You’ve likely heard of a “supermoon,” when the full moon appears brighter than usual because it’s closer to Earth. Friday night, something different will happen, in effect. The full moon will be darker.

lunareclipse_small Stargazers' delight: Lunar eclipse, comet, and 'Snow Moon' in one incredible night Headlines

 

That’s because the Earth’s natural satellite will experience something called a penumbral eclipse. A full lunar eclipse happens when the Earth is right in between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow onto the moon. In a penumbral eclipse, it’s just the edge of the Earth’s shadow (the penumbra) that ends up on the moon, meaning the moon should just appear to be a little darker on one side. (The full, dark part of the shadow is called the umbra.)

 

This phenomenon will be at its maximum at 7:43 tonight, EST, according to Space.com. The best place will be the eastern side of the U.S. If you are outside and in a dark area at that time, look up to the east and check the moon for shading. Don’t worry, that’s not an alien spaceship casting a shadow on the moon. It’s just our own planet.

Because it’s February, the full moon is also called the Full Snow Moon, according to a tradition.