Tonight: Watch penumbral lunar eclipse at 19:45

The eclipse will be visible for just over three hours.

Eclipses and transits are astronomical events where a celestial body partially or totally covers another celestial object. On Friday night a full moon, also called a penumbral lunar eclipse, will be visible.

Moon-gazers will be able to observe it for a full three hours and 18 minutes, as it starts at 19:45 and will end at 23:04, reaching its maximum at 21:24 at -0.41 magnitude.  The penumbra is a half-shadow that occurs when a light source is only partly covered by an object – for example, when the moon obscures part of the sun’s disk. The penumbra is the lighter outer part of a shadow. When the earth enters the moon’s shadow, we see a solar eclipse; when the moon travels through the earth’s shadow, a lunar eclipse occurs. The type of eclipse depends on the type of shadow that is involved.

The moon’s penumbra causes partial solar eclipses, and the Earth’s penumbra is involved in penumbral lunar eclipses. The full moon, called the Strawberry Moon in June, could also be seen if you are in Asia, Australia and Europe and you might see the moon turn a shade darker during the maximum phase of this penumbral lunar eclipse. Penumbral lunar eclipses are hard to distinguish from a normal full moon, as the shadowed part is only a little bit fainter than the rest of the moon.

During this penumbral lunar eclipse, the earth’s main shadow does not cover the moon. As the earth’s shadow (umbra) misses the moon during a penumbral lunar eclipse, there are no other locations on earth where the moon appears partially or totally eclipsed during this event. A penumbral lunar eclipse can be a bit hard to see.

The possibility exists that visibility of this eclipse might be marred by a partly clouded sky.

The full moon is named after the wild strawberries that start to ripen during this month in Europe. The European name for this month was Rose Moon, and another was Hot Moon, for the beginning of the summer heat on the continent.

There are at least two lunar eclipses each year. The next eclipse, a total lunar eclipse, will be seen on the evening of 27 to 28 July. This eclipse will also be visible in South Africa, at 19:45:51 local time when the earth’s shadow will begin covering the lunar surface. This eclipse will be over at 23:04:03.

A partial solar eclipse will be seen on 21 June, starting at 06:44, reaching its maximum at 06:47 at 0.14 magnitude and ending at 07:18. The duration is 34 minutes.

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