This year, Independence Day is going to give people more than just a fireworks show. July 4th is also bringing a lunar eclipse with it. It’s being dubbed the ‘buck moon’ lunar eclipse, and this is everything you need to know about when and how to see it.
July 4th Lunar Eclipse
During the night of July 4th, the full moon will pass through a portion of the Earth’s shadow, creating a lunar eclipse. This specific eclipse will be visible primarily in North and South America, but those living in some parts of Africa and Western Europe may also be able to get in on the show. As long as it’s a clear night, anyone up a bit later for Independence Day will have something to entertain them after the fireworks are over. (1)
The eclipse is set to begin at 11:07 pm eastern on July 4th and continue until 1:52 am eastern on July 5th. The best time to view it is right in the middle of the eclipse, so around 12:30 am. You don’t need a telescope or any fancy equipment, all you have to do is look up at the moon. (1)
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
There are three types of lunar eclipse (2):
Of the three, penumbral is the most challenging to see because it is more subtle. This is because the moon passes through only the Earth’s outer shadow, the penumbra, and doesn’t cover up the umbra, or the Earth’s darkest inner shadow. (2)
A penumbral lunar eclipse typically appears as a dark shading on the face of the moon. This is very unlike total lunar eclipses, where the moon is entirely dark and turns a dark red or even orange-like color. (2)
Who Can See It
North and South Americans will have the best view of the July 4th lunar eclipse. If you live in the Western U.S., the lower Midwest, certain parts of Texas, and the Canadian Prairies, you’ve got the best chance of spotting it. (1)
The eclipse may be viewable in other parts of the U.S. as well, however, the current weather forecast is not promising the clear skies necessary to see it. Some parts of Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, however, should have enough cloud breaks that people living in those regions should be able to get a peek at the shadowy, eclipsed moon. (1)
The next time there will be a lunar eclipse in this region of the world will be November 30th. Also a penumbral eclipse, the November 30th version will be visible over most of the Americas, Australia, and Eastern Asia. The next total lunar eclipse will be May 26, 2021, and will be visible in the same areas as the November 30th penumbral eclipse. (1)
Other Celestial Sightings this Weekend
On Sunday night, July 5th, if you look to the southeasterly sky, the moon will be shining extremely close to Saturn and Jupiter. This means that the two planets will be close together and highly visible all night long, starting at about 10 pm local time. (1)
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