Moon slips into Earth's shadow
17 November 2002A full moon at night is a joyful sight. As you gaze skywards tonight, however, the Moon is going to look even more interesting than usual. Have a look and see for yourself! Tonight there will be a so-called penumbral eclipse, as the Moon slips into the Earth's shadow. Although not as dramatic as a total eclipse of the Moon, tonight's eclipse will be the clearest that we will see this year. It will be visible from Europe at 02:46 CET.
There is a difference between a penumbral and a total eclipse of the moon. The shadow cast by the Earth has two parts: the dark inner 'umbra' and a lighter, surrounding 'penumbra'. Tonight, as much as 89% of the Moon will be shaded by Earth's penumbral shadow, making it noticeably dimmer. The next total eclipse of the Moon will be in May 2003. On that date, it will be shadowed by Earth's 'umbra', making the Moon appear a striking coppery red.