Published: Sat, February 11, 2017
Culture | By Henry Herrera

Friday Night double celestial feature: Eclipse and comet

"We have some pretty nice dark skies around here because we have a lot of farm land in Peoria". A penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible for about half an hour on Friday night in almost all parts of Russia, a senior Russian researcher told TASS Friday.

Along with the full noon will be a penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning it's a partial eclipse that leaves sections of the moon darkened by the Earth's shadow.

Skywatchers can catch a glimpse of the eclipse at 7:43 p.m. ET from anywhere the moon is in sight.

The "snow moon" is the name given to the first full moon of February.

What should you look for?

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The moon will cross into Earth's shadow at 5:32 p.m. EST and re-emerge at 9:55 p.m. EST. This is the only day to view the eclipse in the near future.

This diagram illustrates the alignment of sun, earth and moon that occurs during a lunar eclipse.

Unfortunately, cloudy skies are forecast for Yorkshire this evening - but let's hope for a gap in the clouds to witness this rare sight. "So start looking about 90 minutes before mid-eclipse", Sky & Telescope magazine senior editor Alan MacRobert said in a statement. It will appear as a faint greenish hue. If possible keep a set of binoculars handy as it may be needed to view the comet more distinctly.

Visible around the world since December, on Friday it will make its closest approach to Earth since 2011, flying past a mere 7.4 million miles away. A relatively new comet, this one will make a reappearance in 2022.

- There's a lot to see in the night sky this weekend, but you'll have to know where and when to look if you want to see it all. It's just our own planet. Look west at dusk, or nightfall, to see Mars and Venus. Something very cool is happening on february 10: three rare occurrences will be lighting up the ski in the same night!

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