Souhayl Ben Khaled, United Arab Emirates Astronomy Group
There are lots of exciting lunar events to look forward to this year, including four lunar eclipses.
First, a brief explanation of what we mean when we say “lunar eclipse.” During a total lunar eclipse, when the moon passes through the innermost portion of the Earth’s shadow, it takes on a coppery color A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through even a small part of Earth’s inner shadow, called the umbra. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the penumbra, or the outermost section of Earth’s shadow.
All four eclipses in 2020 are penumbral eclipses, and the moon will be cloaked in a darker-than-usual, silvery hue.
Mark Your Calendars
There are four lunar eclipses scheduled for 2020. All of them are penumbral eclipses, where the moon dips through Earth’s shadow, casting a the moon into a darker shade of silver. The first eclipse took place on January 10. It began at 2:30 p.m. ET, and was visible in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
The next eclipse in 2020, also a penumbral eclipse, will take place on June 5 and will peak at 5:24 a.m. local time (3:24 a.m. EST) for viewers in Sydney, Australia, and will last for three hours and 18 minutes. This one will be visible throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
The first eclipse to be visible from the U.S. will occur exactly a month later, on July 5. Viewers in New York City will see the eclipse start to take shape at 11:07 p.m. ET, peak at 12:29 a.m. ET, and end at 1:52 a.m. ET. This early morning penumbral eclipse will be visible to everyone in the Americas, southwest Europe, and Africa and will last for about two hours and 45 minutes.
The final penumbral eclipse of 2020 will occur on November 30. The four hour and 20 minute eclipse will be the longest of the year and will be visible from New York City starting at 2:32 a.m. ET., and peak will occur at 4:42 a.m. EST. The eclipse will be visible throughout Asia, Australia, most of the Pacific and the Americas.
Can’t catch the eclipse? Luckily, Slooh Observatory, an online community that utilizes four telescopes stationed at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, will be live-streaming each eclipse.
If we’re lucky, we may catch another meteorite crashing into the lunar surface.