So here’s something that totally passed me by: there is a partial lunar eclipse tonight! Thanks to Astropixie and Astronomy Blog for pointing it out – I would have missed it otherwise. This is an event where the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. In this case the Moon is only partially covered by the darkest part of the shadow – the umbra – but should go a nice reddish colour and look dimmed thanks to the lighter shadow – the penumdra. The official data can be found here.
Tonight is also a blue moon. This merely means it is the second full moon of the month. This happens just about once in three years and simply caused by the lunar cycle being slightly off from the monthly calendar cycle.
Maximum eclipse is at 19:22 UT and the Moon is in the East, in Gemini. The eclipse is visible from Asia (all the way down to Malaysia), Europe, Africa and most of the North Pole (if that is useful to you). North America and most of South America will be missing out. The map above outlines this better than my explanation.
So why not go out tonight and take a look if it is clear where you are? You can toast the new year under a red, blue moon.
[Post image of partial lunar eclipse from Flickr user JP.G]
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