Partial Lunar Eclipse
You can't say that the night sky plays favorites. The last lunar eclipse, back in February, put on a good show here in the Americas. But the next lunar eclipse will put on its best showing about a third of the way around the world -- over Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and India. The Americas are just out of luck.
The eclipse takes place tomorrow -- during the day for those of us in the United States. Unlike the last one, though, this eclipse is only partial -- only a part of the Moon will disappear from view.
The eclipse takes place as the Moon passes through Earth's long shadow.
Most months, there's no eclipse at all. The Moon's orbital path is tilted a little with respect to the Sun, so most of the time the Moon passes a little above or below Earth's shadow. But at least twice a year, the geometry is just right, and the Moon passes through the shadow -- or part of it, anyway.
For this eclipse, the shadow will cover more than three-quarters of the lunar disk. In that region, the Moon will turn dark orange or gray -- the result of sunlight scattered through Earth's atmosphere. It'll be hard to see the color, though, because the rest of the lunar disk will be bathed in full sunshine, so it'll shine brightly.
Lunar eclipses take place only at full Moon, which occurs tomorrow afternoon. So even though we won't see the eclipse, we'll see a brightly shining full Moon come sunset tomorrow night.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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