The Cosmos

A Lunar Eclipse and Passing Comet Will Both Be Visible This Weekend. Here’s What You Need to Know…

Get your cameras at the ready...

Love stargazing? Well, get your cameras at the ready because later this month there’s set to be a lunar eclipse on the same night as the New Year comet comes into view.

That’s right, for anyone who loves to stare up to the sky, set your alarms for early February 11th. It’s going to be like your birthday, Christmas and the day you first discovered pizza all rolled into one.

Let’s start with the rare penumbral lunar eclipse scheduled for the night of the 10th. This happens when the sun, moon and Earth all align behind one another.

With the Earth blocking out the light of the sun, the sun is unable to illuminate the surface of the moon as it usually would, making the moon glow in a subtle but stunningly distinctive manner.

This is different to a full or partial lunar eclipse where the moon drifts through the darker innermost shadow of the Earth and causes that whole world-ending vibe most people associate with eclipses, but it’s still going to look badass.

The lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe, from North America, Africa and most of Asia. In Britain it will be visible from around 10.30pm and onlookers should be able to see shadowing over the moon without the need of a telescope. The eclipse will be strongest from around 00:45am on February 11 and be over by just before 3am.

The New Year comet, or Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková as it’s known by its friends, is also expected to be visible to the naked eye on February 11.

The New Year comet got its name as it began a path across the northern hemisphere at the tail end of 2016. Its full name is in honour of astronomers Minoru Honda, Antonin Mrkos and L’udmila Pajdušáková who originally spotted it in 1948.

The path of the comet is predictable and can be seen just over every five years, which is how astrologists are able to forecast its sighting.

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