15 February 2017 | Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Dariusz Wiosna

Image credit & copyright: Dariusz Wiosna | Click image to enlarge

Image Data

  • Date: 11 February 2017
  • Location: Poland
  • Camera: Canon 500d
  • Optics: GSO 10″ Dobson
  • Exposure: 200 x 1/1000s @ ISO100

On the 11th of February a penumbral lunar eclipse took place, the first of two lunar eclipses in 2017. Coincidentally it happened the same day as comet 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková made a close approach to Earth.

A penumbral eclipse is a lunar eclipse that occurs when the moon becomes immersed in the penumbral cone of the Earth without touching the umbra. It is a narrow path for the moon to pass within the penumbra and outside the umbra. It can happen on the Earth’s northern or southern penumbral edges. In addition, the size of the penumbra is sometimes too small to contain the moon.

The width of the Earth’s penumbra is determined by the sun’s angular diameter at the time of the eclipse, and the moon’s angular diameter is larger than the sun over part of its elliptical orbit, depending on whether the eclipse occurs at its nearest (perigee) or farthest point (apogee) in its orbit around the earth. The majority of the time, the size of the moon and the size of the Earth’s penumbra where the moon crosses it mean that most eclipses will not be total penumbral in nature, which was also the case in this recent eclipse.

Penumbral eclipses can be difficult to see from Earth because the moon is merely passing through the Earth’s penumbral shadow, causing only subtle shading on the moon’s surface. To an observer on the surface of the moon, however, during a penumbral eclipse the Earth would appear to be partially eclipsing the sun.

The next partial lunar eclipse will be 7/8 August of this year. A total solar eclipse will take place on the 21st of august and will only be visible from the US.

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