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Lunar eclipse warms the Moon for April’s solar eclipse

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As the moon prepares to erase the surface of our sun in two weeks, it heats up with a penumbral lunar eclipse Sunday evening or Monday morning, depending on your time zone.

Typically, eclipses are the result of a delicate dance between the Moon, Sun and Earth. Lunar eclipses occur when the planet slides between the sun and the moon. This contrasts with a solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon comes between the other two bodies.

“It’s all about shadows,” said Noah Petro, a planetary geologist who works on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA. The sun illuminates the Earth, casting a long shadow behind it.

“And every now and then the moon wanders into that shadow,” Dr. Petro said.

In the most dramatic version of the event, the darkest part of Earth’s shadow covers the lunar surface, making it glow purple. It’s a total lunar eclipse. also known as the blood moon.

But you won’t see this happen overnight. HAS 12:53 a.m. Eastern Time Monday, the Moon will begin to pass through only the outermost part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra. As a result, his entire face will darken slightly.

Is it worth trying to see? Dr. Petro thinks so. But the change will be difficult to perceive with the naked eye, so he encourages using binoculars or a telescope and taking into account how the moon’s brightness changes throughout the night.

Lunar eclipses happen slowly over several hours, Dr. Petro said, so “if you only go out once to watch them, you might not even notice it’s happening.”

Unlike their solar counterparts, lunar eclipses can be observed by anyone on the night side of Earth. According to Dr. Petro, the reason for this difference has to do with the varying sizes of celestial bodies.

Because Earth is much larger than the Moon, its shadow is large enough to envelop the entire lunar surface – an effect that will be visible across much of the Americas tonight. Skywatchers in the western half of Africa, as well as eastern parts of Asia and Australia, could also observe part of the eclipse.

The Moon, on the other hand, is much smaller than our planet. So, during a solar eclipse, only a narrow path on the Earth’s surface is plunged into darkness.

As different as they are, the two celestial events are linked. Both concern the alignment of the Moon, Earth and Sun, but in different orientations. Lunar and solar eclipses always occur in pairs, two weeks apart – the time it takes for the Moon to move from one side of Earth to the other.

“The Moon is this dance partner that we have had for four and a half billion years,” Dr. Petro said, adding that both types of eclipses should remind us of the importance of our cosmic companion.

“We are part of a system,” Dr. Petro said. “Eclipses are a great reminder that we are not alone in space.”

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