It’s a full moon tonight, and in and hour and a half or so there will be a penumbral lunar eclipse. Despite the big name, it’s not something that’s even likely to be visible to the naked eye. In short, the Earth’s shadow has a dark, inner part (umbra) and a much, much fainter outer part (penumbra) and the Moon will be going through a portion of that thin outer part. If I didn’t tell you it was happening, you wouldn’t know it by looking or noticing anything different.
Now, when the Moon goes through the inner, umbral part of the Earth’s shadow, it can be spectacular and the Moon can appear to get dark, turn red, or orange, or even dark brown and almost disappear for up to an hour or more. (See my pictures from the 2014 lunar eclipse here, and the 2015 lunar eclipse here.)
Nothing so dramatic tonight. BUT…
I took a peek just now, and there’s a very high, thin layer of clouds over SoCal. That means the moonlight is passing through a very fine layer of ice crystals, which makes a 22° arc all the way around the moon, sometimes known as a moon ring or winter halo.
It’s not a subtle effect and the sight is spectacular, but it doesn’t make for a nice crisp picture, especially with the full moon being so, So, SO much brighter than the ring. But the iPhone does a pretty good job of capturing it.
And with that, the four-day holiday weekend ends. Monday lurks, but at least we have an amazing, beautiful sight in the sky above us. And in twenty-four days we have the Christmas and New Year’s break with just a couple days of work over a ten day period. And in fifty-one days…
Hang in there!