Partial lunar eclipse can be seen Saturday morning

Weather permitting; a partial lunar eclipse will make an appearance in the skies over Minnesota before sunrise Saturday morning. While this will be a total lunar eclipse for western North America, the moon will actually set just before the total eclipse begins. This one is interesting because it will be the shortest total eclipse of the 21st century, lasting just a little over 4 minutes. This is because the moon is passing through just the edge of the Earth's inner shadow. Wait, the Earth has 2 shadows? Yes…. Well sort of.

 

This visibility map of the total lunar eclipse of April 4, 2015 shows what observers can see based on their location in North America as determined by Sky & Telescope magazine

Because the sun is much bigger than Earth and exceedingly bright, the earth has what you might see as an inner and outer shadow. The "outer" shadow is called the penumbra and the "inner" shadow is called the umbra. The moon will enter the penumbra about 4am CDT. But the effect is so small that most eyes won't be able to see any change until about 5am CDT…

 

By 5:15am CDT the moon begins to enter the umbra… this is when you will begin to see a section of the moon go missing…

 

Roughly 95% of the moon will be eclipsed by the time it sets just before 7am and almost the exact time of sunrise…

 

It will be crazy to be able to see both within just seconds of each other but opposite ends of the sky. Now, because the moon doesn't get completely eclipsed, it won't be turning much of a red color, with the exception of the pink hue it typically gets when it sets. But should be quite the show nonetheless for you early risers.


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