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Saturday, November 28, 2020


Twilight "Blue Moon" Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Monday, November 30, 2020

Lunar Eclipse, 3:10 am
Evening sky on Monday November 03 looking east as seen from Sydney at 20:43 AEDST, at mid-eclipse. (The inset shows the Moon in binoculars at this time click to embiggen). At this time the Moon is nearly two hand-spans above the horizon, shortly before Nautical Twilight (and hour after sunset). The subtle darkening of the Moon may be hard to spot.Evening sky on Monday November 03 looking east as seen from Adelaide at 20:12 ACDST, at mid-eclipse. (click to embiggen). The Moon is just rising, but the subtle darkening of the Moon may be visible an hour after sunset (Nautical Twilight) when the Moon is two hand-spans above the horizon (similar to the Sydney image).

The November 30 penumbral eclipse is a "Blue Moon" eclipse, occuring on the second Full Moon of the month everywhere except WA (they got their blue moon last month thanks to time zones).

Unfortunately, the penumbral eclipse occurs in the early evening, mostly in twilight. While this is a good time for the kids to watch, the moon is only partly embedded in Earths' outer shadow and the darkening will be difficult to spot. Eastern states have the best view and WA misses out.

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 and the clise is mostly in twilight, but those on the east coast may find it rewarding (see my images here for January's better penumbral eclipse and the September 2016 penumbral eclipse) . The Moon is very obvious as it rises in the east.

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 northern 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. And my guide for the 2019 perigee Moon may be helpful for mobile phone users. And there is a downloadable PDF guide to mobile phone astronomy at SpaceMath@NASA.

For all states, the eclipse starts with the Moon below the horizon.

For the eastern states mid eclipse occurs at 20:43 AEDST with the Moon nearly two hand-spans above the horizon, and after civil twilight, so although faint it should be visible. The eclipse ends at 22:56 pm AEDST. 

In the central states, mid-eclipse occurs with the Moon just rising, deep in the twilight shortly after sunset and will be difficult to see, however by Nautical twilight, an hour after sunset, the darkening is still extensive and should be seen. the eclipse end occurs 22:26 pm ACDST, after the end of astronomical twilight.

In WA, the eclipse start and mid eclipse all occur with the Moon below the horizon, and the rest of the eclipse deep in the twilight.

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, so central state observers may see something).

Penumbral Eclipse BeginsMaximum Eclipse Penumbral Eclipse Ends
below horizon
20:43 AEDST 22:56 pm AEDST
below horizon
20:12 ACDST 22:26 pm ACDST
below horizon
below horizon
19:56 pm AWST

See here for a map and contact timings in UT for sites outside Australia

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