Even if your fireworks display is canceled on July Fourth this year because of the coronavirus, there’s still something in the sky to look for over the weekend.
Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday, the full moon will graze Earth’s shadow to create what’s known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, AccuWeather said.
Not as spectacular – or noticeable – as a total lunar eclipse, this rather subtle phenomenon occurs when the moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, according to EarthSky.
Weather permitting, the eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America and all of South America, NASA said.
The eclipse will begin Saturday at 11:07 p.m. EDT and last until 1:52 a.m. EDT on July 5. The best time to look will be about 12:30 a.m. EDT during the middle of the event, according to AccuWeather.
Look at the full moon during that time, and if skies are clear you may notice it’s slightly darker than usual.
Observant people will recognize the shadow, while others won’t spot anything at all, EarthSky said. At best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face.
The western U.S. should enjoy clear skies for the eclipse, AccuWeather said, as should much of Texas and parts of the Midwest. Clouds may be a problem in some areas, especially across the Deep South, New England and swaths of the central U.S.
About 35% of all eclipses are of the penumbral type, which can be difficult to detect even with a telescope, according to eclipse expert Fred Espenak.
Another 30% are partial eclipses, which are easy to see with the unaided eye. The final 35% or so are total eclipses, and these are quite extraordinary events to behold, Espenak said.
Both partial and total lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes through part or all of the umbra, the main part of our planet’s shadow.
There will be another penumbral lunar eclipse in November, according to NASA. The next total lunar eclipse visible in the U.S. will be on May 26, 2021.
One other fun fact about this weekend’s full moon: In North America, we often call the July full moon the Buck Moon, EarthSky said. This is because at this time of year, buck deer begin to grow velvety antlers.