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On Friday Night, There’s A Full Moon, Lunar Eclipse + A Comet

Lunar Eclipse
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Friday night will be a great night to space out.

Sky-watchers are in for a treat Friday night, Feb. 10. The night sky will feature three impressive sights.

First you’ll notice it’s a full “Snow Moon.” Some Native American tribes also refer to it as the “Hunger Moon.”

You’ll start to notice the moon doesn’t seem very bright. That’s because the moon will be passing through the outer part of earth’s shadow. It’s known as a penumbral lunar eclipse. It’s not as noticeable or spectacular as an total lunar eclipse. A penumbral lunar eclipse simply makes the moon look darker as only some of the suns rays are blocked by the earth.

Here’s the timeline for the penumbral lunar eclipse:

  • The moon enters earth’s shadow at 5:32 p.m.
  • The peak of the eclipse occurs at 7:43 p.m.
  • By 9:45 p.m., the moon will be out of earth’s shadow again.
Comet
ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA via Getty Images

A few hours after the eclipse, comet 45P will make its closest approach to earth. The chunk of ice and rock will zoom by earth at a distance of 7.4 million miles. The comet has been visible for the past two months, and will still be visible until the end of February.

At 3 a.m. Saturday, the comet will appear to the east in the constellation Hercules. Through binoculars or a telescope, you’ll notice it as a green/blue glowing dot with a tail.

If you miss it, it’s all good. Comet 45P will return in 2022.

The best viewing will be in very dark locations, far from light pollution.

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