Penumbral Lunar Eclipse 2013: Where To Watch The Moon Event Live [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on October 18, 2013 1:38 PM EDT

penumbral lunar eclipse
A penumbral lunar eclipse will take place tonight, October 18. Above, a penumbral lunar eclipse from April 25, 2013. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A penumbral lunar eclipse will occur tonight, with skywatchers in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the eastern portions of North and South America getting the best show. The lunar eclipse will last for about four hours, but it is expected to be a subtle one. The deepest phase of the eclipse will take place at 7:50 PM EDT, when the faint outer portion of earth's shadow, or penumbra, will cover 76.5 percent of the moon.

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To watch 2013's penumbral lunar eclipse -- the only one this year -- step one is to not be in the Western U.S. Sorry, west coasters, but the deepest phase of the eclipse will occur during daylight hours there. Those on the East Coast will have a better shot at seeing the lunar eclipse, starting right after sunset. If you're located in Africa, Europe or western Asia, you'll have to get up in the middle of the night to see the lunar eclipse. Here's a visibility map for the 2013 penumbral lunar eclipse [PDF].

Look to the southern limb of the moon, which will appear slightly smudged -- that's the portion that earth's penumbra will cover during the lunar eclipse. But because the shading will appear to be subtle, the best way to see the lunar eclipse will probably be to watch it online. The Slooh camera will be live-streaming the lunar eclipse with commentary by astronomy expert Paul Cox. The webcast (embedded below) will begin at 6:00 PM, with the Cox joining in an hour later.

"Although a penumbral lunar eclipse might go unnoticed by someone casually glancing at the moon, we will be able to observe the gradual shading of the moon in the live images Slooh will broadcast throughout the eclipse," said Cox. "The shading becomes far more apparent when viewed as a time-lapse, and we'll show viewers that during the live segment of the show."

So the penumbral lunar eclipse won't exactly be the most thrilling type of eclipse. But in just two weeks, on November 3, a rare type of eclipse will take place: a hybrid solar eclipse. Only five percent of solar eclipses are hybrids, meaning the eclipse begins as an annular eclipse, with the moon appearing slightly smaller than the the sun, which forms a ring of light around the moon; the eclipse then transitions into a total eclipse, with the moon blocking the sun entirely. The November 3rd hybrid solar eclipse will only be visible from a small stretch of land between Africa from Gabon to Somalia.

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