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Lunar eclipse 2020: How and when to see the Buck Moon and penumbral eclipse

Adam Smith
Credit: Bay Ismoyo, AFP via Gettey Images

A penumbral lunar eclipse, when the moon moves into the earth’s shadow, will be taking place this weekend.

This happens when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are imperfectly aligned.

The eclipse will be visible across the Americas, south-west Europe, and Africa.

It will last for two hours and 45 minutes, according to Nasa.

In the United Kingdom, the eclipse will start in the early hours of Sunday morning, at approximately 04:07am.

It will last for 38 minutes, finishing at 04:45am.

The maximum eclipse – the point at which the eclipse reaches its greatest magnitude – will unfortunately not be visible from the UK’s capital as the moon will be under the horizon.


(Credit: Nasa)

The orbit of the Moon around the Earth will be almost in the same plane as the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.

In Europe, which has high latitudes, the full Moon may have a reddish colour. This is due to light from the moon shining through the atmosphere more than at other times of the year, giving it a rouge tint.

This is the same reason that sunrises and sunsets are red.

This particular kind of moon is referred to by many names, including the Buck Moon, Thunder Moon or Hay Moon.

The terminology comes from the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, which published ‘Indian’ [aboriginal] names for the moon in the 1930s.

“According to this almanac, as the full Moon in July and the first full Moon of summer, the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this full Moon the Buck Moon. Early summer is normally when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur,” reads a Nasa blog post by Gordon Johnston.

“They also called this the Thunder Moon because of early summer's frequent thunderstorms,” it continues.



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