Published: Sat, February 11, 2017
Science | By Guadalupe Butler

This Triple Cosmic Experience Is Coming Friday Night

This Triple Cosmic Experience Is Coming Friday Night

The first full moon of February, a "snow moon", is named for what is normally a period of heavy snow, but will be immersed in a penumbral eclipse instead.

Overnight we will be treated to a stunning show, as a snow moon, a lunar eclipse, and New Year comet will simultaneously light up the sky.

Friday evening, shortly after moonrise, the full moon will skirt the outer portion of earth's shadow, during a penumbral eclipse of the moon.

Unlike the dramatic total eclipse of the moon, you can only see a subtle dark shadow on the moon during the penumbral version.

Friday night and early Saturday morning will be a good time for some night-sky photography - or just plain skywatching.

Later tonight, a streaking green comet can be observed at its closest point to Earth - more than 7 million miles away - about 10:30 p.m. Make sure you watch out for a bright blue-green "head" with a tail in the sky. A full lunar eclipse happens when the Earth is right in between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow onto the moon.

Folks in the northeastern United States will probably agree with the Farmer's Almanac listing of the February full moon as the "snow moon".

In North America, the eclipse begins at 5:34 p.m. ET and ends at 9:53 ET, according to astronomy website EarthSky.

The lunar eclipse was a penumbral eclipse, one of three kinds of lunar eclipse.

The peak time for the eclipse will be Friday evening at about 6:45 pm. You'll need a pair of binoculars or a telescope if you want to catch a glimpse. The chunk of rock, dust and ice is visible to the naked eye only once every five and a quarter years.

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