Stargazers in the U.K. are in for a celestial treat during the evening and night hours on Feb. 10 and 11. After the sun sets on the 10th of February, the heavens will put on a show that will feature three amazing phenomena. Getting a front row seat to the action won’t be difficult as long as the skies are clear and you are away from the glare of city lights. The moon will put on a show to remember, experts say.
Three Lunar Acts in One Evening
The penumbral lunar eclipse starts on the evening of Feb. 10. The eclipse begins around 10:43 that night in the U.K. The moon will not be totally eclipsed. It will pass through the Earth’s peripheral shadows, becoming darkened as it rises in the night sky. The eclipse will last four hours and 19 minutes. It should end around 2:53 in the morning of Feb. 11.
The second act of the evening begins as soon as the sun sets. The 45P/Honda-Mrkos Pajdusakova comet will jet across the night sky. This comet, which was discovered in 1948, will whiz past Earth at a 7.7-mile distance and be visible to the naked eye. The comet takes about 200 years to orbit the sun in its journey through the universe.
The final lunar act starts around 12:30 a.m on Feb. 11 as the moon exits its eclipse. After it leaves the Earth’s shadows, it will put on a brilliant white color. Its appearance during the event matches its name, which is the Snow Moon or the Hunger Moon. Folklore suggests that this lunar appearance indicates heavy snowfall is soon to follow. Native American tribes also call it the Bone Moon because it occurs during a time of the year when hunting is more difficult and game is less available to hunters. Seeing the moon and comet should be easy. Still, you may have to leave city limits to get a better view.
This Year’s Mid-August Total Solar Eclipse
These three lunar phenomena are not the only celestial acts to occur this year. In North America, the sun will be totally eclipsed, leading to an astronomical event that was last witnessed in the late 1970s. The total solar eclipse is scheduled to take place on August 21 this year. It will be visible in certain parts of the U.S. but out of sight for many states that are outside the eclipse’s path.
The eclipse should begin around 10:15 a.m. off the coast of Oregon. As it travels across the state, it will grow darker and quickly pass over the skies of Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Parts of extreme Northeast Kansas will be able to see the eclipse and most of the state of Missouri will witness the eclipsed sun pass over it. Extreme southwest Kentucky, central Tennessee, northwest Georgia, and North Carolina will also be in the path of the eclipse.
Stargazers must wear a pair of safety spectacles to view the sun during the eclipse. Watching the solar eclipse without proper protection could lead to severe optical damages and blindness.
The skies regularly put on a good show that some people are lucky to see firsthand. If you want to watching an eclipse, comets, and other celestial events you should know when to look toward the heavens. Feb. 10 and 11 will be prime dates in the U.K. to watch the moon change its appearance. The next major astronomical event will occur in North America in August when the sun will be totally eclipsed as it travels across the continent.
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