The Sky Tonight Update: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Earth’s shadow can be divided into two distinctive parts: the umbra and penumbra. Earth totally occludes direct solar radiation within the umbra, the central region of the shadow. However, since the Sun’s diameter appears about one-quarter of Earth’s in the lunar sky, the planet only partially blocks direct sunlight within the penumbra, the outer portion of the shadow.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

An eclipse of the moon can only happen at full moon, when the sun, Earth and moon line up in space, with Earth in the middle. At such times, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, creating a lunar eclipse.  Lunar eclipses happen a minimum of two times to a maximum of five times a year. There are three kinds of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral.

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The Sky Tonight Update: Feb. 11, Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

This February 11, a penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s partial shadow, or penumbra. During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern South America, eastern Canada, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Africa, and western Asia.

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