Remember waking up on December 26th to observe the deepest Solar Eclipse? Weren’t we all excited to experience the phenomenon that had occurred over 100 years back? Bahrain even had an observation unit set up at the Royal Police Academy in AL Dur with a telescope and solar glasses for us to have a better viewing experience.
The pictures that came up later were absolutely mind-blowing, right?
Some of the best shots of the Solar Eclipse from Bahrain on December 26th, 2019.
Here’s the good news for the astrophiles out there. Manama, in Bahrain, is going to witness the first eclipse of 2020 on January 10. This time, it is going to be a penumbral lunar eclipse.
What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?
As we know, the moon does not emit light on its own. It reflects the sunlight falling on its surface. A lunar eclipse takes place when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon and blocks some or all of the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon. So if it was the moon covering the Sun during the last Solar Eclipse, it is the Earth this time.
During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Sun, Moon and the Earth takes an imperfectly aligned position. When this happens, the Earth which is in between the Sun and the Moon blocks some or all of the light from reaching the Moon’s surface with the outer part of its shadow. This is known as the penumbra.
The penumbra is much fainter than the dark core of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra, which is why the penumbral eclipse of the Moon is often difficult to tell apart from a normal Full Moon.
How to Differentiate a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse from a normal Full Moon?
It is the inclination of the Moon’s orbital path that differentiates a lunar eclipse from a Full Moon which obviously we wouldn’t be able to see. The plane of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth is inclined at an angle of 5° to the Earth’s orbital plane around the Sun, the ecliptic. The two orbital points meet at certain points called the lunar nodes. When Full Moon occurs near a node, a lunar eclipse takes place.
How to view a Lunar eclipse?
It is difficult to say the start and end of a penumbral lunar eclipse even with a telescope. However, the penumbral eclipses that involve the darker portion of the Earth’s penumbral shadow are normally visible to the naked eye. This means if you are a careful observer, you can actually see penumbral eclipses with a penumbral magnitude greater than 0.60.