For those that like to head outside and gaze up at the nighttime sky, you’re in for a real treat this Friday night as there will be multiple things to see. Sometimes, people are lucky enough to see a bright moon or catch views of a lunar eclipse on different evenings, but what about at the same time? On Friday night and into the early morning hours of Saturday, you will have the chance to see a penumbral lunar eclipse, a comet flying by, and a full moon (snow moon).
Making all of this so much better is that this will be the closest comet approach in decades and it should make things a bit easier to see. CNET points out that the lunar eclipse will actually contribute to seeing the comet better as it will darken the full snow moon to illuminate the comet more.
Now, February’s full moon is referred to as a “snow moon” for a very simple reason, and it is due to this month usually bringing a lot of snow. That, in itself, is an awesome thing to see, but being able to view all three things in this celestial triple threat on the same night will make it so much more amazing.
— #StormHour (@StormHour) February 4, 2017
For you to see the lunar eclipse, full moon, and fly-by of the comet, you will need to be prepared and know all the facts. According to the Sky & Telescope, there are going to be a number of things you need to be aware of and follow to get the best viewing experience.
Everything is set to begin on the evening of Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, and some will carry over into Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017.
For these skywatchers, the full moon will rise above the horizon around 5:30 p.m. ET and in a slow fashion, the lunar disk will begin to cover it and gray it out. Around 6:14 p.m., the Eastern time zone will be able to see the gray shading of the moon.
Around 7:44 p.m. Eastern, the eclipse will be halfway over, and the top third of the moon is going to be seen as a darker gray color. From here, the normal brightness of the moon will begin to return until it leaves the penumbral shadow at approximately 9:55 p.m. ET.
All is not done at this point, though, as Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will prepare to make its closest approach to Earth after all this takes place.
Comet, eclipse and full moon will light up skies Friday night. https://t.co/qWj5pQlB5r
— Smithsonian Magazine (@SmithsonianMag) February 9, 2017
For those still hanging around outside, the comet will begin to make its closest approach around 10:30 p.m. ET and it will be green, but you won’t be able to just “see it.” You will need something strong such as a pair of good binoculars or a telescope to actually pinpoint it.
As is typical with these types of awesome happenings. Slooh is bringing space for everyone and will do a live feed of all there is to see on Friday night. Throughout the world, there will be different times for the events to be visible.
Comet 45P is going to be about 7.4 million miles away, and it will finally be visible in the east around 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. Look for the constellation known as Hercules, and you should be able to spot the blue-green comet which won’t return until 2022.
Not everyone will be able to see all of these amazing things happen, but the opportunity is going to be there on Friday going into Saturday. If you are looking to see the New Year Comet fly by along with the full “snow” moon and the penumbral lunar eclipse, you will need to work at it and hope you’re somewhere that it is possible.
[Featured Image by Scott Eisen/Getty Images]