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Starting Soon: A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

“If your family’s Fourth of July fireworks plans are up in smoke because of the pandemic, watch the sky for a lunar eclipse instead,” reports CNN.

It begins in just 5 minutes — and then lasts for two hours and 45 minutes:

On July 4, just after 11 p.m. ET, the moon will begin its temporary new look. For exactly two hours and 45 minutes, the moon will pass through the feathered outer shadow cast from Earth, creating a partial penumbral lunar eclipse.

A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the faint penumbra shadow cast by Earth. The moon misses the Earth’s umbral shadow, which is best known for creating total and partial lunar eclipses. This event might not be as illustrious as a partial or total lunar eclipse where parts of the moon seem to disappear. Still, a noticeable darkening of the moon’s surface will be visible without a telescope.

The eclipse will begin at 11:07 p.m. ET and last through 1:52 a.m. ET, with peak darkening occurring just after midnight.
The article also notes that every night this summer will see “a great meeting of planets, known by astronomers as a conjunction… Expect a brighter than usual illumination of the planets as they take center stage across the horizon.”

While Jupiter will be 15 times brighter than Saturn, they’ll both be approaching their closest approach to Earth in 20 years — which finally happens in mid-July.

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