Skywatchers are in for a treat on Friday night (Feb. 10) with a full moon, a subtle penumbral eclipse and a green comet that – while invisible to the naked eye – will be zipping by at 51,000 miles per hour only 7.4 million miles away, according to Sky & Telescope The Essential Guide to Astronomy.
The most obvious celestial event, obviously, will be the full moon, which in February is nicknamed the “Snow Moon.”
A penumbral eclipse, which accounts for about one-third of all lunar eclipses, occurs when the edges of the earth’s shadow — rather than the face of the earth’s shadow which is called its “umbra” — passes between the sun and the moon.
When that happens, Earth’s outer shadow blocks some but not all of the sun’s rays from the moon, making a dark shadow on the moon’s face.
“Some people will easily notice Earth’s light penumbral shadow, inching across the moon’s face. Others will look at tonight’s full moon and swear they notice nothing unusual,” according to EarthSky.org.
Although NASA says the exact moment of the penumbral eclipse is at 4:43 PST, EarthSky says the best time for us to see the eclipse will be at moonrise which occurs in Seattle at 5:26 p.m.
If you have a telescope or binoculars and you want to try for a glimpse of Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, look for it in the West in the constellation Hercules after sunset. If you miss it on Friday, the comet will be also visible through the weekend.
The National Weather Service is predicting partly cloudy weather here, but sometimes the sky surprises.