Partial lunar eclipse can be seen in South America this Friday (19)

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This Friday (19) there will be a partial lunar eclipse, which will have visibility in North and South America, Europe and Asia, according to NASA.

On May 26th, there was a total lunar eclipse, which could also be seen in Asia and the Americas. Over the next year there will also be two lunar eclipses – with one difference: both will be total.

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One of them will take place on May 16th and the other on November 8th of next year. This Friday’s lunar eclipse is expected to last about 3 hours.

What is this phenomenon, what causes it and what is its frequency? Here are the answers to these and other questions.

What is a lunar eclipse?

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The Moon orbits the Earth about once every 29 and a half days, explains astrophysicist and former NASA scientist Fred Espenak on his website.

Therefore, as it rotates around the planet, its position relative to the Sun causes it to change phase. We generally hear about four lunar phases: new moon, waning quarter, crescent, and full moon.

A lunar eclipse can only occur when the Moon is full. And it happens if the Moon is passing through a portion of the Earth’s shadow.

Types of lunar eclipses

There are three types of lunar eclipses:

  • Penumbral Eclipse (where the Moon passes through the Earth’s outer shadow, which blocks some, but not all, of the Sun’s rays).
  • Partial eclipse (where a part of the Moon passes through the Earth’s inner shadow or threshold, where it blocks direct sunlight).
  • Total eclipse (where the Earth blocks all sunlight from reaching the Moon).

Can they all be observed?

It depends. Penumbral eclipses are difficult to observe because they are so subtle, says Espenak.

However, partial eclipses can be seen with the naked eye. The most impressive are total eclipses, as the Moon appears red.

Unlike when it comes to a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses can be safely observed without the need for protection.

What are the diferences?

We already know that the lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow and this blocks the arrival of the sun’s rays.

The solar eclipse, on the other hand, occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, which is only possible during the New Moon phase.

How often do they occur?

The eclipses are repeated during the Saros cycle, a period that lasts approximately 18 years and 11 days, according to NASA.

Two to four times a year, the Moon passes through part of the shadows of the Earth’s penumbra or threshold, and that’s how eclipses occur, according to Espenak.

(This text is a translation. To read the original, in Spanish, click here)

Reference: CNN Brasil

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