KMSP, Minneapolis, MN - This Friday night into Saturday morning the heavens will put on a triple feature for stargazers. It all gets started with a full moon, followed by a lunar eclipse, and then a passing comet. It will take a little effort to see these events, but with planning, it will be possible.
First of all when it comes to the lunar eclipse, do not expect a clear cut blockage of the moon but instead a gradual dimming of its brightness. The darkening of the moon will begin at 4:32 pm our time and last for about four hours. This will reduce brightness and allow for more celestial objects to be more visible.
This comet is about a mile wide at the head and comes around about once every five years. Now I have to be honest, unless you’re an experienced stargazer, you will have trouble spotting this comet as it flies by. You will need a telescope and binoculars to have the best chance of catching a glimpse of Comet 45P. Comet 45P makes its closest approach to Earth on February 11, when it will be 7.4 million miles from Earth. It'll be visible in the morning sky in the constellation Hercules. The comet then passes through the constellations Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown) and Ursa Major. Then it moves on to Leo by the end of February. It moves swiftly -- 9 degrees each day! It will return again in 2022.
Below are a few websites that can help in your planning for this Friday night and Saturday morning.
Now we just need to weather to cooperate and we will be set for a night of stargazing.