A Guide to Friday’s Comet-Eclipse-Full-Moon Triple Feature


    Even if you aren’t a space nut whose idea of a good time is craning your neck to stare into the vast nothingness that is space, this Friday the heavens will put on a show worth heading outdoors for!

    A penumbral lunar eclipse, a full “snow moon” and a comet will be spicing up the night sky February 10 in a rare convergence of such celestial happenings.

    February brings the full moon known as the “snow moon” because this month in North America tends to see a lot of snow. The snow moon will be special because we will all get in its way in a sense when the penumbral lunar eclipse takes place Friday. The eclipse will be at least partly visible from most, but not all places on earth. The moment of the greatest eclipse is at 4:43 p.m. PT and the eclipse will then dissipate until it completes a little over two hours later, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

    Then, of course, the Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos- Pajdušáková has actually been visible with binoculars and telescopes for several weeks already, but it will be at its closest approach to Earth on the morning of February 11 as it passes by at a distance of 7.4 million miles (11.9 million kilometers) or 30 times further away than the moon.

    45P has was discovered in 1948, and it typically stays in Jupiter’s orbit but ventures into the inner solar system from time to time. The last time it made a swing through our neighborhood was 2011 and it is not due back until 2022.

    The comet will probably not be visible to the naked eye, especially with that special full moon in the sky, but you may be able to hunt it down with binoculars or a telescope. According to NASA is will be visible in the morning sky in the constellation Hercules.

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