Penumbral lunar eclipse, comet await sky-watchers Friday night

Last penumbral lunar eclipse of the decade to dim Friday night's full moon

"We fall right in the penumbra so we'll face the moon when it is eclipsed by the Earth", says Chris Ni, president of the University of Toronto's Amateur Astronomy Society.

"We should have clear skies tomorrow night to view the eclipse, however, don't expect a huge difference in the brightness of the moon".

This diagram illustrates the alignment of sun, earth and moon that occurs during a lunar eclipse. Comet 45P will be visible to the naked eye as it comes closest to Earth about 10:30 p.m. EST.

"It's a attractive thing to see if you have a telescope", Boyle said.

There will indeed be a lunar eclipse tonight; in fact it's the first of two lunar eclipses in 2017.

"What you're seeing when you see them in the sky is the gas vapor that the sun's heat has caused them to give off this vapor", said Kerrigan.

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According to Sky and Telescope, the full moon is expected to linger later and later into the morning, so the earlier the better.

Comet 45P, meanwhile, will zoom past Earth early Saturday morning. In fact, at the moment of greatest eclipse (7:43 p.m. EST, or 0034 GMT on February 11), the penumbra will stretch across 98.84 percent of the lunar disk. A number of experts have revealed that this month's so-called Snow Moon will allegedly pass through Earth's outer shadow Friday evening. Look for the constellation known as Hercules, and you should be able to spot the blue-green comet which won't return until 2022. However, even though it will only be partial, folks around the Gulf Coast should still be able to see a good chunk of the eclipse' total time. The greatest dimming occurs at 6:44 p.m. Friday, with the eclipse ending at 8:53 p.m.

It has been visible around the world since December, including over the New Year, but this weekend it will come just 0.08 Astronomical Units (7.4 million miles) from Earth as it makes its closest approach since 2011.

The penumbral eclipse will also be visible in the evening from the Caribbean and eastern South America.

Not everyone will be able to see all of these incredible things happen, but the opportunity is going to be there on Friday going into Saturday.

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