Comet, full moon, and lunar eclipse visible friday night

Posted February 11, 2017

Sky gazers across Asia, Europe, Africa and North America will be able to feast their eyes on the lunar eclipse.

Stargazers will also be treated to a snow moon on Friday.

The lunar eclipse will be most noticeable as the moon rises on Friday night-but don't expect the moon to completely disappear from the sky.

The penumbral lunar eclipse is visible almost worldwide, except for in Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and countries along the coast of the Pacific in east Asia. But this will be a penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning that the outer part of Earth's shadow will make the moon look darker than usual. On February 11, 2017 the full moon swings south of the dark umbra but passes through the faint penumbra. In a partial eclipse, or umbral eclipse, the moon appears to have a bite taken out of it. It will reach mid-eclipse at 7:44 p.m.

Friday night is going to be a very special evening. This third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle, and much more hard to observe, than either a total or partial eclipse of the moon.

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It should be visible at roughly 3 am ET (midnight PT) in the early hours of Saturday.

A "triple celestial" is expected, with a lunar eclipse, a full moon and a comet all expected to appear in the skies. To check it out, binoculars or a telescope will be helpful.

Sadly, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková - named after the astronomers who discovered it - is only visible if you use a telescope or binoculars. This will be its closest approach to Earth since 2011, and we won't see it again until 2022.

The best time to look at the eclipse will be after moonrise, which is about 5:30 pm local time. But if you want to hunt for it, point your specs towards the constellation Hercules in the eastern sky just before dawn.

If you miss 45P, don't worry.