Friday, November 27th 2020, 7:00 am - Unlike a total lunar eclipse, this one will be difficult to spot, but it's still worth a try!
Early Monday morning, the Sun, Earth and the Moon will line up just right to produce a lunar eclipse. Although January 2019's Super Blood Wolf Moon was a spectacular sight, this lunar eclipse will be a bit more challenging to see.
November's Full Beaver Moon takes place on the night of Sunday the 29th through the morning of Monday the 30th. It's the second last Full Moon of 2020 and the third in a series of 'micromoons' we are seeing this Fall. There's an added bonus, too.
As a bit of 'foreshadowing' for the December 14 Total Solar Eclipse across Chile and Argentina, this Full Moon will be passing through a portion of Earth's shadow.
The path of the Full Beaver Moon through Earth's shadow on the night of November 29-30, 2020. Credit: NASA/Fred Espenak/Scott Sutherland
Starting at 2:32 a.m. EST on Monday morning, the Moon will begin crossing through the diffuse lower portion of Earth's shadow. This will produce the fourth and final Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of 2020 (previous ones were on January 10, June 5, and July 5).
The eclipse will take a total of about 4 hours and 20 minutes to run its course. The maximum eclipse, when the Moon will be as deep into the shadow as it can get for this event, will be at 4:43 a.m. EST. Viewers in other time zones should adjust these times accordingly. For example, the maximum will occur at 6:13 a.m. for viewers in Newfoundland and 1:43 a.m. for British Columbia.
As the graphic above shows, the Moon will not turn red during this eclipse, as we saw with the Super Blood Wolf Moon. This is because, on this particular pass through Earth's shadow, the Moon does not dip far enough to encounter the darker, reddish portion, known as the Umbra.
Rather than turning a dusky red colour, the Moon will only dim slightly during this penumbral eclipse, with the dimming more concentrated towards the Moon's north pole.
This closeup of the Moon's progress through Earth's shadow better illustrates the effect of the eclipse. Credit: NASA/Fred Espenak/Celestia/Scott Sutherland
Besides the weather, there's one challenge to overcome for this eclipse. When viewed from Earth's surface, the Moon appears roughly the size of a dime held at arm's length. That's pretty small. So, noticing this slight dimming on such a small object in the sky will not be easy without some kind of help. A telescope or a pair of binoculars will bring the Moon's surface features into much sharper focus, and it will allow a better look as Earth's shadow sweeps across.
Clear skies are essential for viewing, of course. Check your local forecast on Sunday night to ensure you'll have an unobscured view. If you are clouded over that night, there are bound to be plenty of astronomers snapping pictures of the event to post online.