Starwatch: an ‘almost total’ eclipse of the moon

People in the Americas and Pacific best placed to view lunar event from start to finish

This week, a full moon occurs on 18-19 November, and for some around the world it will be an “almost total” lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs at full moon, when the moon travels directly behind the Earth and so crosses through our planet’s shadow. More than 97% of the moon’s disc will be in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra.

The eclipse begins at 6.02 GMT, when the moon’s western limb touches the outer edge of the Earth’s shadow. This edge does not block out all the sunlight, and is known as the penumbra. It produces a subtle dimming effect that is easily overlooked. Contact with the umbra takes place just before 7.19 GMT, and will cause a distinct shadow to begin crossing the lunar disc. The midpoint of the eclipse, the almost total phase, occurs at 9.03 GMT. The moon then leaves the umbra at 10.47 GMT, and the penumbra just before 12.04 GMT.

Visibility from the UK is not great, with the moon setting at 7.24 GMT. From the Americas and the Pacific, however, much if not all of the eclipse will be visible. East Asia will see the middle of the eclipse, and Australia will catch the final penumbral phase.

Contributor

Stuart Clark

The GuardianTramp

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