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November’s Full Moon – the so-called Beaver Moon – is heading into a penumbral eclipse this Sunday through to Monday. Penumbral eclipses take place in a diffused shadowy region of space known as the penumbra. Three of these eclipses have already unfolded this year and Monday’s event will be the fourth and last lunar eclipse until May 2021.
EarthSky astronomer Deborah Byrd said: “An eclipse of the moon can only happen at Full Moon, when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up in space, with Earth in the middle.
“At such times, Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon, creating a lunar eclipse.
“Lunar eclipses happen a minimum of two times to a maximum of five times a year.”
There are three kinds of eclipses: total, partial and penumbral.
Total and partial eclipses unfold in the direct shadow the Earth casts into space – the so-called umbra.
During totality, the Earth’s shadow covers the entire face of the Moon and can even give the lunar orb a brown-reddish hue.
During a partial eclipse, only a fraction of the Full Moon’s face enters the planet’s shadow.
Ms Byrd said: “In a penumbral lunar eclipse, only the more diffuse outer shadow of Earth – the penumbra – falls on the Moon’s face.
“This third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle, and much more difficult to observe, than either a total or partial eclipse of the Moon.
“There is never a dark bite taken out of the Moon, as in a partial eclipse.”
What time is the penumbral eclipse on Monday?
According to the US space agency NASA, the eclipse will be visible over both Americas, the Pacific, eastern Australia and parts of Asia.
And depending on the timezone you live in, the eclipse will start late on Sunday, November 29, or early Monday, November 30.
Unfortunately for hopeful stargazers in the UK, eclipsing will begin around the same time the Moon will dip below the horizon.
Click here to find out when the next eclipse will unfold over the UK.
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The eclipse will begin on Monday at 7.33am UTC (2.33am EST) when the Moon will first dip into the penumbra.
The Moon will continue to slowly pass into the shadow, reaching up to 82 percent coverage.
Eclipsing will peak at 9.42am UTC (4.42am EST), after which the Moon will move out of the shadow.
Astronomers calculate the event will wrap up by about 11.53am UTC (6.43am EST).
EarthSky astronomer Bruce McClure said: “It’ll be the faintest of eclipses – nearly imperceptible – so that some of you will swear nothing is happening even while staring straight at it.
“Then again… observant people may notice a subtle shading on the Moon, even without knowing an eclipse is taking place.
“A dark rural sky will be best for seeing this very faint eclipse.”
As an additional stargazing challenge, look for a reddish star near to the lunar orb.
This will be the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus the Bull.
Mr McClure added: “You have to be on the nighttime side of the Earth while the eclipse is taking place or you’ll miss it altogether. “
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