Celestial objects come and go from view in the night sky all the time. Whether it be the full moon or a meteor shower or just the best night to see Mars, we're here to direct your eyes skyward and tell you to look up and appreciate the wonders of space from Earth.
As the Moon makes its journey around the Earth, it varies in shape, size and brightness depending on its alignment with our planet and its host star.
This weekend, star gazers will be treated to a penumbral lunar eclipse where the Earth, Sun and Moon are imperfectly aligned to create a slight shadow on the Moon's cratered, gray surface. It is definitely a sight you won't want to miss, and here's everything you need to know about it.
The penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible across most of North and South America, south-west Europe, and Africa. The eclipse will begin on the night of July 4 and last till the next day on July 5, peaking just a little after midnight at 12:29 a.m. Eastern on July 5, according to NASA.
Therefore, it may be a nice way to unwind after a long day of fourth of July shenanigans.
Unlike a total lunar eclipse where the Moon is fully cloaked in the shadow of the Earth, turning a dark red color at times, a penumbral lunar eclipse is when the Moon hides behind Earth's outer, slightly hazy shadow known as penumbra.
During the penumbral lunar eclipse, about a third of the Moon will be hidden behind Earth's shadow and will turn a little darker than usual.
This takes place when the Moon, Earth and Sun are in an imperfect alignment, whereas they would be perfectly aligned for a full-on total lunar eclipse. Therefore, the effect will be subtle but still magical nonetheless.
Even without the mark of Earth's shadow, the Moon will be at its fullest during that night.
Over the course of its trip around Earth (27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes), the Moon embarks on different phases: A small sliver of the Moon’s crescent gradually appears in our skies as it waxes to become a full Moon at the peak of its cycle. After that, it begins to wane into invisibility once more, before beginning anew, 29 and a half days after the preceding new Moon.
This month's full Moon, the first official full Moon of the summer, is known as the Buck Moon. It was named the Buck Moon by the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northeastern United States since this time of the year is when the antlers of the buck deer start to come out of their foreheads, according to NASA.
The next full Moon will be on August 3, while the next penumbral lunar eclipse will be on November 29-30.