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Partial Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Tonight

The moon will be officially full at 12:44am on Sunday, July 5th, only a couple hours after the normal 4th of July celebrations. Skies will be clear across mid-Michigan, so if you are lucky enough to still see fireworks tonight, the bright full moon will accompany them. If the fireworks display has been cancelled in your area, though, there will be a astronomical event that takes place beginning after 11pm. There's another downside, though. This is a partial penumbral lunar eclipse, which means it will be very faint and difficult to notice with the naked eye.

Tonight's lunar eclipse will begin at 11:07pm EDT, peak at 12:29am EDT, and end at 1:52am EDT. A lunar eclipse happens when the earth lines up directly between the sun and moon, which causes the earth to cast a shadow on the moon. The earth has two shadows: An inner shadow known as the umbra, and an outer shadow, known as the penumbra. The penumbra is a very faint shadow and difficult to notice. When the moon falls into the earth's umbra, that's when the best lunar eclipses occur. In the case tonight, it's only a penumbral eclipse, so it will be very faint and it's also only a partial eclipse. Only 35% of the moon will move through the faint shadow of earth's penumbra. At 12:29am EDT, it will look like a very faint bite has been taken out of the upper portion of the moon. The graphic below shows the position of the moon at peak during this event, where it is only partially covered by the faint shadow of the earth.

Overall, the fireworks and the lunar eclipse probably won't be all that entertaining unless you get excited for every astronomical event. Other events in the night sky tonight include a trio of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn as well as the International Space Station passing overhead between 4:21am EDT and 4:26am EDT. With the weather pattern right now, clear skies and warm nights are favorable for stargazing, although the full moon is very bright right now.

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