January’s eclipse of the Moon is what’s known as a penumbral lunar eclipse. These are not as spectacular as a total lunar eclipse, but if you’re keen there are a few things to note.
A penumbral lunar eclipse is when the Sun, Earth and Moon are imperfect in their alignment in space. Not all of the light from the Sun is blocked out by Earth. This causes the Moon to be in Earth’s partial shadow.
WA residents have a better view of this penumbral eclipse of the Moon than in eastern Australia. The partial penumbral eclipse begins at 1:06am. However, the best time to see the full effect on the surface of the Moon is at the time of mid eclipse, 3:10am.
You might not notice a big difference in the Moon. There will be a subtle darkening on the southern section of the Moon.
When to look: Mid eclipse is at 3:10am, 11th January
Which direction to look: North west
A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are all in a straight line in space. The Earth is in between the Sun and Moon and the Earth’s shadow moves across the Moon. A total lunar eclipse is when the Earth blocks out all the Sun’s light and our planetary shadow passes over the whole Moon.
While you’re outside, you’ll notice two bright stars to the right of the Moon. The higher star is Pollux and the one below is Castor. These are the two bright stars of the constellation of Gemini.