A lunar eclipse is coming on May 5. Here’s what you need to know

The moon will darken but not completely disappear as it slips into Earth’s outer shadow on Friday (May 5), creating a penumbral lunar eclipse.

On Friday (May 5), a penumbral eclipse will occur as the moon passes through the outer shadow of the Earth, causing it to darken but not disappear completely.

The penumbral lunar eclipse will begin at 11:15 EDT a.m. (1515 GMT) and will be visible from anywhere on the globe where the moon is over the horizon, including Antarctica, Asia, Russia, Oceania, and Eastern and Central Africa. The event will peak at 1:24 p.m. EDT (1724 GMT) and will end at 3:32 p.m. EDT (1932 GMT) when the moon emerges from the Earth’s shadow.

Unfortunately, the eclipse will not be visible in North America, South America, or most of Europe as the moon will be below the horizon. Penumbral eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun, causing the Earth’s shadow to fall on the moon. Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are often difficult to observe.

lunar eclipse
A map showing locations from which the lunar eclipse on May 5, 2023 will be visible. (Image credit: Dominic Ford/In-The-Sky.org)

During a penumbral eclipse, the moon enters the Earth’s lighter outer shadow, known as the penumbra. This causes the moon to receive less light from the sun, leading to a dimming effect. While this can be difficult to see, total penumbral eclipses can occur where the entire lunar face moves into the penumbra, causing a more extreme dimming that is visible to the naked eye. However, these events are rare because once the moon has fully entered the penumbra, it is likely to reach the darker inner part of the Earth’s shadow, resulting in a partial lunar eclipse.

The last time a penumbral eclipse was visible from the contiguous U.S. was in November 2020, and the next one will be visible in March 2024. For those hoping to observe the moon’s features up close during an eclipse or at any other time, guides to the best telescopes and binoculars are available.

If you hope to catch a look at the features of the moon close-up during an eclipse or any other time, our guides to the best telescopes are a great place to start. 

READ MORE: See the Moon Turn Blood Red in This Stunning Lunar Eclipse Video


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