Skywatchers across the East Coast are hoping for clear skies Friday night with a trifecta of a full moon, lunar eclipse, and comet all set to happen the same evening.
On tap first is the month's first full moon, known as the "snow moon." As the moon passes on the edge of the Earth's shadow, the moon will be completely shaded from the sun's light, turning it varying shades of gray, said Space.com.
On the East Coast, the lunar disk will start to turn gray around 5:30 p.m., with it ever so slowly, giving way to gray shading around 6:14 p.m., according to Alan MacRobert and Kelly Beatty, senior editors at Sky & Telescope magazine.
But don't put away those telescopes just yet, the eclipse isn't finished. By 7:44 p.m., the middle of the moon will become noticeably darker gray, said astronomer Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory.
The moon will begin to return to its normal brightness by about 9:55 p.m., reported the Washington Post.
But wait, there's more, because Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková will make a speedy appearance zooming by Earth at 10:30 p.m. The comet, which will appear blueish-green, will need to viewed by using a telescope or binoculars because it is not visible to the naked eye, said the Washington Post.
For those who don't have telescopes or high-powered binoculars, the entire event will be webcast on Slooh's live feed beginning at 5:30 p.m., with experts weighing in with play-by-play and analysis -- just like a big game.
But perhaps the best reason to watch Friday's spectacular skyward events is that the next time a lunar eclipse in this series will occur is Feb. 22, 2035, on George Washington's 303rd birthday, said the Washington Post.
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