Sky Watchers – March 22 – A Comet and March 23 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse


March 22 – A Comet

The comet which has been called P/2016 BA14, discovered just a few months ago, spotted by researchers at the University of Hawaii’s PanSTARRS telecope on Haleakala, on the island of Maui, on January 22, 2016.

P/2016 will arrive around 7:30 a.m. (PDT) and be the closest to us for at least the next 150 years at just 2.2 million miles, with just two others coming closer in the planet’s recorded history, comet D/1770 L1 (Lexell) in 1770 and comet C/1983 H1 (IRAS-Araki-Alcock) in 1983. You will still need a professional-grade telescope to catch a glimpse or you can watch P2016 BA14’s pass live online click here.

March 23 – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

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Those people who rise real early or just can’t sleep in North America and the Pacific will see a very, very subtle penumbral eclipse of the moon on the morning of March 23, 2016. The blazing planet Jupiter will be nearby. Western North America will see the entire eclipse.

An eclipse of the moon can only happen at full moon, when the sun, Earth and moon line up in space, with Earth in the middle. At such times, Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, creating a lunar eclipse. When this happens – and it happens two to four times every year – everyone on Earth’s night side can see the eclipse. There are three kinds of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral.

In a total eclipse of the moon, the inner part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, falls on the moon’s face. At mid-eclipse, the entire moon is in shadow, which may appear blood red.

In a partial lunar eclipse, the umbra takes a bite out of only a fraction of the moon. The dark bite grows larger, and then recedes, never reaching the total phase.

In a penumbral lunar eclipse, only the more diffuse outer shadow of Earth falls on the moon’s face. This third kind of lunar eclipse is much more subtle, and much more difficult to observe, than either a total or partial eclipse of the moon. There is never a dark bite taken out of the moon, as in a partial eclipse. The eclipse never progresses to reach the dramatic minutes of totality. At best, at mid-eclipse, very observant people will notice a dark shading on the moon’s face. Others will look and notice nothing at all. Read More > at Earth Sky

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About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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