Posted on Nov 29, 2020
Full Beaver Moon Eclipse As November Ends: See It In New City
A penumbral lunar eclipse takes place when the moon moves through the faint, outer part of Earth’s shadow. It occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned in an almost straight line. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The penumbral lunar eclipse is a prelude to can’t-miss December sky shows in New City, including the colorful, prolific Geminids.
North America, including New York, is in for a treat Monday morning when the moon turns full: a penumbral lunar eclipse.
It won’t be as dramatic as a full lunar eclipse, but a penumbral lunar eclipse is still worth an investment of your time. It’s best viewed at 4:42 a.m. in New City.
The National Weather Service forecasts rainy skies in New City when the eclipse peaks Monday morning.
Monday’s full moon is also known as a beaver moon, so dubbed by Native Americans for whom the full moons were a sort of calendar. The names given to moons correspond with things going on in nature, hence the beaver moon in November, when beavers create their winter lodges. By this time of year, beavers have also put on the thick heavy coats prized by hunters, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Before we get to the three different types of lunar eclipses, it’s important to know that Earth’s moon was formed about 4.5 billion years ago and has since been moving away from our planet ever so slowly — about 1.6 inches a year. In billions of years, lunar eclipses won’t occur at all.
It’s also important to know the moon has no light of its own but shines when sunlight is reflected from its surface. As NASA explains it, the extent to which the moon is illuminated depends on its changing position relative to the sun as it orbits Earth, a cycle that repeats every 29½ days.
Lunar eclipses can only occur when the moon is full, and only if the moon passes through some portion of Earth’s shadow. There are three types of lunar eclipses:
In a total lunar eclipse, the entire moon passes through Earth’s umbra, or inner shadow. The moon takes on a vibrant red hue during totality and is often called the “blood moon.” The next total lunar eclipse visible from the Americas will occur May 26, 2021, according to Space.com.
In a partial lunar eclipse, part of the moon passes through Earth’s umbral shadow. It’s easy to see without a telescope or binoculars. It will look like a bite has been taken out of the moon.
Viewing a penumbral lunar eclipse — the type that will occur Monday morning — is a bit trickier. It won’t appear as if a bite has been taken out of the moon, and it’s far more subtle than the other types of eclipses. Only the outer shadow — the penumbra — of Earth falls on the face of the moon. Some may see it; others may not. If you can, watch the eclipse through a small telescope or binoculars.
What’s Ahead For The Rest Of 2020
As November ends, look ahead to December and the best meteor shower of the year. You were thinking that honor goes to the Perseid meteor shower in August? Well, the Perseids are great, and it helps that the weather is warm during the peak. But the Geminid meteor shower, which runs Dec. 7-17 every year, is something special, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors at their peak Dec. 13-14 peak.
Produced by debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, this shower is best viewed after midnight. A nearly new moon will make for excellent viewing conditions. The meteors radiate from the constellation Gemini but are visible anywhere in the sky.
The Ursids, a minor meteor shower, runs Dec. 17-25 and produces around five to 10 meteors at the peak. Viewing conditions are best after midnight. The first-quarter moon sets just after midnight, so dark skies will enhance meteor viewing. The meteors come from the constellation Ursa Minor but can be seen anywhere in the sky.
The Ursids’ peak is timed this year with the winter solstice on Dec. 21. The winter solstice occurs when Earth’s sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn. It’s the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
A rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn also occurs on the first day of winter. The two planets appear perfectly aligned, something that hasn’t happened since 2000. They will be so close to one another that they’ll appear as one bright planet. To see it, look at the western sky just after sunset.
The last full moon of the year is on Dec. 30. Native Americans called it the full cold moon for reasons that are obvious, but it’s also been called the moon before yule and the full long nights moon.
Post courtesy of Patch