space comet

Triple treat: Eclipse, comet, full moon all coming Friday night 2/10/17

Penumbral lunar eclipse

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.org.

The outer shadow of the Earth blocks part — but not all — of the sun’s rays from reaching the moon, making it appear slightly darker than usual.

Full “snow” moon

As required during any lunar eclipse, the moon will be full Friday night. And this month it’s nicknamed the “snow” moon.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, full moon names date back to Native Americans in the northern and eastern U.S. Each full moon has its own name.

“The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon,” the almanac reports. “Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred.”

Comet 45P

A few hours after the eclipse, Comet 45P, which has been visible after sunset for the past two months through binoculars and telescopes, makes its closest approach to Earth, when it will be “only” 7.4 million miles away, NASA said.

Look to the east around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, where it will be visible in the sky in the constellation Hercules. Binoculars or a telescope could be helpful. Watch for a bright blue-green “head” with a tail.

It will be visible in various points of the night sky until the end of February, according to NASA.

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Resembling a comet streaking across the sky this speedy star is plowing through a region of dense interstellar gas and creating a brilliant arrowhead structure and a trailing tail of glowing gas. The star is one of 14 young runaway stars spotted by the Advanced Camera for Surveys between October 2005 and July 2006.

Credit: NASA, ESA and R. Sahai (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory)