In North America, we often call the November full moon the Frosty Moon or Beaver Moon. This year, the November full moon gives the world its smallest full moon of the year – and in North America, a penumbral eclipse of the moon before sunrise November 28. In the world’s Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand – the penumbral lunar eclipse takes place after sunset November 28.
The eclipse computer provided by the US Naval observatory lets you find out the local times of the eclipse for your time zone. You do not have to translate Universal Time (UT) into your time. Nonetheless, we list the eclipse times in Universal Time (for Wednesday, November 28):
Penumbral eclipse begins: 12:15 Universal Time
Greatest Eclipse: 14:33 UT
Penumbral eclipse ends: 16:51 UT
By the way, that brilliant beauty of a planet near tonight’s moon is the king planet Jupiter. The moon and Jupiter will be much closer together tomorrow night.
What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?
Left, an ordinary full moon with no eclipse. Right, full moon in penumbral eclipse on November 20, 2002. When master eclipse photographer Fred Espenak took this photo, the moon was 88.9% immersed in Earth’s penumbral shadow. In that way, it’s a very similar eclipse to the one you’ll see on November 28, 2012. Learn more about this photo and see more of Espenak’s work here. Image copyright Fred Espenak. Used with permission.
Before you set your alarm clocks, please be forewarned. A penumbral lunar eclipse is quite subtle and not nearly as stark and obvious as an umbral eclipse of the moon. During an umbral lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the umbra – the Earth’s dark, cone-shaped shadow. During a penumbral eclipse, the moon passes through the light penumbral shadow surrounding the umbra. (See feature diagram at top.) Your best chance of noticing any penumbral shadow on the moon’s surface is at mid-eclipse (greatest eclipse) in a dark sky not obscured by dusk or dawn.
No, you won’t see this! This is the partial UMBRAL eclipse of the mooon on June 4, 2012. Astronomer Alan Dyer took this photo from his home in southern Alberta, Canada. It was pre-dawn, near moonset. See more of Dyer’s photos here. Image copyright Alan Dyer. Used with permission
Although the penumbral eclipse lasts – technically speaking – for over four and one-half hours, you’re only likely to notice a slight shading on the north side of the moon for up to an hour or so, centered at greatest eclipse (14:33 Universal Time). Generally, at least 70% of the moon’s diameter must be immersed within the Earth’s penumbral shadow before the eclipse becomes noticeable. At greatest eclipse, the penumbral shadow covers over nearly 92% of the moon’s diameter.
Note the world map below. The farther west and north you live in North America, the better your chances of catching the subtle shadow on the moon before dawn on November 28. The farther east or north you are in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere, the better are your chances of seeing the penumbral eclipse after nightfall on November 28.
Visibility of penumbral lunar eclipse of November 28, 2012. Image Credit: Fred Espenak
People in Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and most of Asia will be on the correct side of Earth to see the eclipse. The western U.S. and Canada will also catch part of it.
So Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, and east Asia will see the entire eclipse on November 28. For western Canada and the western U.S. moonset will happen sometime after mid-eclipse. For eastern Canada and the eastern U.S., the eclipse will begin after moonset. No eclipse on November 28 for you in the east … sorry.
View of Earth and Sun at greatest eclipse as seen from moon’s equator. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Actually, the eclipse would be much more exciting to watch if you could view it from the moon. At or near the moon’s north pole, you’d see our planet Earth covering about 90% of the sun’s diameter. As you go farther south on the moon, the Earth would cover less of the sun. At the southernmost regions of the moon, you’d see no eclipse at all.
Although the smallest full moon of the year may be slightly darkened by the Earth’s penumbral shadow, look for the moon to boldly light up the night sky from dusk till dawn for the next couple of nights!