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Thursday, June 04, 2020


Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, morning June 6, 2020.

Western horizon as seen from Sydney on  June 6 at 5:25 am AEST. The eclipse is at its deepest. Click to embiggenWestern horizon as seen from Adelaide on June 6 at 4:55 am ACST. The eclipse is at its maximum extent. Click to embiggenWestern horizon as seen from Perth on June 6 at 3:25 am AWST. The eclipse is at its maximum extent. Click to embiggen

This year sees three penumbral lunar eclipses, unfortunately, they are all very poor. On the morning Saturday, June 6 the second of these eclipses will occur. This is a relatively poor penumbral eclipse, but most of Australia gets to see mid-eclipse under fairly dark conditions. The subtle darkening of the Moon as it passes through Earth's shadow may be hard to distinguish (see here for January's better penumbral eclipse).

Morning sky on Saturday, June 6 showing the whole sky as seen from Adelaide at 4:55 am ACST (maximum eclipse depth). Three bright planets are visible high above the northern horizon with the eclipsed Moon below the pair of Jupiter and Saturn. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time click to embiggen.
Unfortunately, like the January 11 eclipse the June 6 eclipse occurs in the early morning. Even though it is on a Saturday you may wish to stay in bed for this one.

However, the sky itself, with the line-up of Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be beautiful, along with the Milky Way. There may even be satellite or two and a meteor, so if you do get up the sky will not disappoint.

You don't need special filters or fancy equipment to watch the lunar eclipse, you just need your eyes and somewhere comfortable to sit and watch. Watching the faint outer shadow of earth creep across the Moons face is quite challenging, as the darkening is subtle. The Moon is very obvious to the west.

In a penumbral eclipse, the Moon only enters the outer part of Earth's shadow. This will results in a subtle darkening of the Moons southern half. Depending on how good your eyesight is, it could be reasonably visible, or only visible via photography.

A guide I wrote for the October 2014 lunar eclipse about taking photos of the eclipse is here.

On the East coast, the eclipse starts when the sky is quite dark at 3:43 am AEST and mid-eclipse is at 5:25 am, at astronomical twilight when the Moon is reasonably high. The eclipse finishes after Moon set.

In the central states, the eclipse starts at 2:36 am ACST and mid-eclipse begins well before astronomical twilight at 4:55 am ACST, the eclipse end occurs at dawn.

In WA, the eclipse starts with the Moon quite high,in the early morning and all of the eclipse is seen. The eclipse starts at 1:43 am AWST and mid-eclipse begins at 3:25 am AWST and the eclipse ends at 5:07 am.

The table below shows the time of the eclipse from Eastern, Central and Western Australia. For Eastern and Central Australia subtract an hour for non-daylight saving states. The early parts of the eclipse will be effectively invisible to the unaided eye. When around 2/3 of the Moons disk is immersed in the penumbra, then you will see an effect (around half an hour either side of maximum eclipse).

Penumbral Eclipse BeginsMaximum Eclipse Penumbral Eclipse Ends
3:43 am  AEST 5:25 am AEST after Moon set
2:36 am  ACST 4:55 am ACST After Dawn
1:43 am  AWST3:25 am AWST 5:07 am AWST

For other regions, see here for UT timings.

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