An Early Morning Partial Lunar Eclipse, August 8, 2017

TLE08OCT2014.latepartialphase
The Aug 8, 2017 partial lunar eclipse will look somewhat like this in the western sky. This image shows the moon late during the total lunar eclipse of 08 Oct 2014. Image ©MAAS.

A partial lunar eclipse will occur during the early morning of Tuesday August 08, 2017.

You will have to get up early (or stay up very late!) to see it. And only a small ‘bite’ will disappear from the Moon. So this one will be for the very keen. Or for anyone who’s been missing eclipses of late…this will be the first lunar eclipse clearly visible from Australia since April 2015.

The eclipse technically begins at 01:48am (all times are AEST), when the Moon slips into the Earth’s faint or penumbral shadow. But you wont notice much until the Moon enters the darker part of Earth’s shadow, the umbra, at 03:22am.

Maximum eclipse is at 04:21am when Earth’s umbral shadow covers just a quarter of the Moon’s diameter. However, the area of the Moon covered, or the ‘bite’ taken out of it, is much less than a quarter. There will be no change in colour or reddening of any kind like we see during a total lunar eclipse. Look to the west where the ‘bite’ will be missing from the upper-left side of the Moon.

The Moon leaves the umbral shadow at 05:19am at which point another free show from the universe is all but over. The Moon leaves the penumbral shadow at 06:53am by which time we’ll be well into the morning twilight, or even sunrise, for most of Australia.

This eclipse begins the final countdown towards the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 22 (Aug 21 in the USA). With this Aug 8 partial lunar eclipse the Moon has passed its full phase – it is now on an immovable deadline moving through half an orbit around Earth to pass directly between our planet and the Sun.

For times in other Australian locations see this table by Ian Musgrave.

UPDATE, Tue Aug 8, 2017: I observed this eclipse from 04:20 for about ten minutes (I have a full day’s work today like most people!). No colour was visible, but the limb not under the penumbra appeared brighter than usual, probably an optical illusion. Also the penumbral shadow (maybe in addition to the apparent limb brightening) seemed to increase the contrast in the mare features. The sky was very clear. Altogether, well worth waking early to view.

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