Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Eclipses feed
There will be a penumbral eclipse of the Moon, visible from Ashburn in the southern sky. The Moon will lie 30° above the horizon at the moment of greatest eclipse.
The eclipse will last from 21:53 until 01:50, and maximum eclipse will occur at 23:52 (all times given in Ashburn time).
A penumbral eclipse
Like other lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses occur whenever the Earth passes between the Moon and Sun, such that it obscures the Sun's light and casts a shadow onto the Moon's surface. But unlike other kinds of eclipses, they are extremely subtle events to observe.
In a penumbral eclipse the Moon passes through an outer region of the Earth's shadow called the penumbra. This is the outer part of the Earth's shadow, in which the Earth appears to cover part of the Sun's disk, but not all of it (see diagram below). As a result, the Moon's brightness will begin to dim, as it is less strongly illuminated by the Sun, but the whole of the Sun's disk will remain illuminated to some degree.
Although the Moon's light dims considerably during a penumbral eclipse, this is only perceptible to those with very astute vision, or in carefully controlled photographs.
On this occasion 88% of the Moon's face will pass within the Earth's penumbra at the moment of greatest eclipse, and so a modest reduction in the Moon's brightness may be perceptible.
Visibility of the eclipse
Eclipses of the Moon are visible anywhere where the Moon is above the horizon at the time. Since the geometry of lunar eclipses requires that the Moon is directly opposite the Sun in the sky, the Moon can be seen above the horizon anywhere where the Sun is beneath the horizon. The map below shows where the eclipse of May 6 will be visible.
The table below lists the times when each part of the eclipse will begin and end.
|21:53||01:53||Moon begins to enter the Earth's penumbra|
|01:50||05:50||Moon leaves the Earth's penumbra|
This eclipse is a member of Saros series 112. The exact position of the Moon at the moment of greatest eclipse is as follows:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 25 May 2018|
10 days old
All times shown in EDT.
Espanak, F., & Meeus, J., Five Millennium Canon of Lunar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000, NASA Technical Publication TP-2009-214172 (2009)
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|06 May 2031, 23:41 EDT||– Full Moon|
|13 May 2031, 15:08 EDT||– Moon at Last Quarter|
|21 May 2031, 03:19 EDT||– New Moon|
|29 May 2031, 07:21 EDT||– Moon at First Quarter|