Penumbral lunar eclipse on March 23, 2016

Penumbral lunar eclipse on March 23, 2016

Observers located in the extreme eastern Asia, eastern Australia, the Pacific Ocean and the west coast of North America including Alaska will get to see a penumbral lunar eclipse on March 23, 2016, the first of three lunar eclipses in 2016.

The eclipse will reach its greatest point at 11:48 UTC. However, it will be nearly indistinct from a regular full moon so more interesting event in the night sky will be a very bright Jupiter, right next to the Moon in its full phase. 

Jupiter will be very bright at -2.5 magnitude and the Moon will be extremely bright at -12.4 magnitude. The pair made their closest approach, passing within 1°57' of each other, at 02:48 UTC on March 22.

A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's partial shadow, or penumbra. During this eclipse, the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. Image credit: Fred Espenak

This penumbral lunar eclipse comes 2.1 days before the Moon reaches apogee, in the constellation Virgo. 

It belongs to Saros 142 and is number 18 of 73 eclipses in the series. All eclipses in this series occur at the Moon’s ascending node. The Moon moves southward with respect to the node with each succeeding eclipse in the series and gamma decreases.

Over the nights following March 23, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day so as to become prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky.

By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon.

Featured image: NASA / LRO

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