Skygazers across parts of North America, Asia, and the Pacific Ocean region will be treated to a penumbral lunar eclipse this week.
The minor lunar eclipse will happen on Wednesday, March 23, and should be visible for around four hours and 15 minutes. According to Space.com, it will be most visible at around 7.47 a.m. EDT (11.47 a.m. GMT). During that time, you’ll be able to see Earth's fuzzy shadow creeping onto the southern half of the Moon. Unfortunately, the celestial event won’t be visible from Europe or Africa.
So what exactly will you be seeing? Penumbral lunar eclipses are when there is an imperfect alignment with the Sun, Earth, and the Moon. Earth partially obscures the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon, creating the appearance of a slightly darkened shadow. It should not be confused with a total lunar eclipse, where the Moon enters the main central "umbra" of Earth's shadow and turns red.
However, it will be a subtle one. Penumbral lunar eclipses are usually only visible when the majority of the Moon is covered in shadow, rather than just part of it. On top of that, the shadow will appear very softly across the Moon, and will be visible only as a light grey smudge.
You can learn more about all the different forms of a lunar eclipse in this NASA Goddard video below.
Main image credit: amespiphoto/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)