Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on Feb 9

Eclipse time again!

On January 26, during this lunar month’s new moon, we have a partial solar eclipse. 15 days later, on the same lunar month’s full moon, we are going to have a lunar eclipse.

Same as the solar eclipse, lunar eclipse also comes in few flavours. The best of course is the total lunar eclipse, when the Moon totally hides inside our planet shadow – more precisely, the umbra shadow. If the Moon only partially enters the Earth’s umbra shadow, then we’ll see a partial lunar eclipse.

If the Moon misses altogether the umbra shadow and only moves through the penumbra shadow, then it’s called penumbral lunar eclipse. And this is what we are going to have on this coming February 9.


Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of Feb 9, 2009. Credit: F. Espenak, NASA-GSFC.
As usual, check out shadow and substance for the nice animation.

The show starts at 8:38 pm when the Moon first contacts the Earth’s penumbra. The greatest eclipse happens two hours later at 10:38 pm. The Moon will continue to move through the shadow until finally leave the penumbra around midnight.

You can see this eclipse just outside your house as long as there are no trees or building blocking your view in the eastern horizon. You do not need any equipment to observe, your naked eyes alone is enough. Alternatively you can also see it through binoculars or telescope (no filter required).

For this eclipse, you will not see the Moon being “bite out”, what you will see is that the bright full moon will be getting dimmer and dimmer as the eclipse progress to the greatest. The dimmer part is most obvious at the northern part of the Moon because it’s “deeper” in the shadow.

Hope you will enjoy the show and clear skies to everyone out there.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Chinese Happy “Fifteen Night”.

Always look up, and you will be rewarded with the beauty of the night sky…


~ by thChieh on February 7, 2009.

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