Lunar Eclipse – November 28, 2012

 

If you are an early riser (on the west coast), make sure you step outside around 6:00 am PST on Wednesday morning to see the final lunar eclipse of 2012.  On Wednesday, November 28, 2012, beginning at 12:14:58 UT and ending at 16:51:02 UT, there will be a penumbral lunar eclipse visible in Europe, eastern Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and the Pacific.  The greatest eclipse, with the most visible darkening, will occur at 14:33:00 UT (6:33 am PST). Once moonset occurs at 6:40 am PST, the moon will be under the horizon in Los Angeles and the eclipse will no longer be visible.

UT Time Time in Los Angeles (PST) Visible in Los Angeles?
Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 12:14:58
4:14 am
Yes
Greatest Eclipse: 14:33:00
6:33 am
Yes
Penumbral Eclipse Ends: 16:51:02
8:51 am
No

 

What is a lunar eclipse?

An eclipse of the moon occurs at full moon if the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow.  The Earth’s shadow includes two components – the outer (penumbral) shadow where the Earth blocks part of the Sun’s rays from reaching the moon and the inner (umbral) shadow where the Earth blocks all of the Sun’s rays from reaching the moon.

There are three types of lunar eclipses:

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

  • Moon passes through Earth’s penumbral shadow (see diagram below).
  • Subtle and difficult to observe since there is only a slight darkening of the moon.
  • This is the type of lunar eclipse that will occur on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.

 

Partial Lunar Eclipse

  • A portion of the moon passes through Earth’s umbral shadow.
  • Easy to observe with the naked eye.

 

Total Lunar Eclipse

  • The entire moon passes through Earth’s umbral shadow.
  • Easy to observe with the naked eye.
  • Moon has a vibrant red color during the total phase.

 

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

 

How can I watch the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse?

With your eyes!  Lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye.  Binoculars will help magnify the view.  With a telescope you can make note of the time when each crater enters the penumbral shadow.  But the overall darkening will be visible with your own two eyes.

Since the Moon will be passing through the Earth’s outer (penumbral) shadow which only blocks part of the Sun’s rays, the start and end of the November 28, 2012 lunar eclipse will not be visible to the naked eye.  You may be able to notice a slight darkening using binoculars or a telescope during the beginning and end.  During the eclipse’s maximum, a dusky shading in the northern half of the Moon will be visible to the naked eye and even more distinct if you are viewing the eclipse with binoculars or a telescope.  According to NASA, viewers in Western Canada and the USA will have the best views with moonset occurring sometime after mid-eclipse.

At approximately 14:00 UT (6:00 am PST) when 2/3 of the Moon  is in the penumbra, you should be able to notice the darkening with the naked eye.  The maximum effect, when the Moon is completely in the penumbra, should be visible at about 14:33 UT (6:33 am PST).  The exact time will depend on atmospheric conditions that morning.  Shortly after the maximum eclipse, the moon will set (6:40 am in Los Angeles, 7:06 am in San Francisco and so on).  Since the moon will be so close to the horizon during the eclipse, viewing from a high point is recommended.

Enjoy!

Penumbral Eclipse Before Mid

Photo Credit: ©2002 F. Espenak, www.MrEclipse.com

 

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