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Astronomy

Thursday's full moon: The lunar eclipse that no one will notice

10/24/2016, 1:59:53 PM
This astronomy blog was written by AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada.

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Lunar eclipses are one of the most well-known astronomical events and typically receive quite a bit of attention when they occur. However, not many people have been talking about the lunar eclipse happening this week.

The eclipse will occur before sunrise on Thursday (for those living in the United States) but will go largely unnoticed, even by some people looking for it.

This is because the moon will barely graze Earth’s outermost shadow, and as a result, there will be virtually no detectable shadow on the surface of the moon.

Because the shadow of the Earth won't be detectable, some people are calling this an "almost lunar eclipse."

It will not take long for the small sliver of the moon to pass through the edge of Earth’s shadow with Thursday’s penumbral lunar eclipse lasting about 18 minutes. In comparison, a total lunar eclipse can last as long as three hours and 40 minutes.


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A diagram showing the progression of this week's lunar eclipse. The circles at the top of the diagram represent the moon while the larger circles in the center represent the shadows of the Earth.

While this eclipse will be a non-event for many, it does have some significance to it. Thursday’s eclipse will be the last lunar eclipse of Saros series 109.

A saros series is a period of 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours that is used to predict the occurrence of eclipses.

While there are usually multiple eclipses every year, each of those eclipses are part of a different saros series. For example, the lunar eclipse that happened back in March was part of Saros series 142.

Saros series 109 first began in the year 736 with a similar eclipse and will finally come to an end on Thursday.

For more information on Saros series 109, check out NASA's catalog of lunar eclipses.

As is the case with every full moon, August's full moon goes by many different names with the most popular being the Full Sturgeon Moon.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full moon.”

A few other names for Thursday's full moon include the Green Corn Moon, the Grain Moon and the Full Red Moon.


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The next lunar eclipse is set to take place next month on Friday, Sept. 16.

This will be another penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning that it will only pass through the outer portion of the Earth's shadow, but it will almost certainly be more noticeable than Thursday’s eclipse.

Next month's eclipse will be able to be seen in Africa, Asia and Australia and Europe, weather permitting.

For more astronomy news, be sure to follow AccuWeather Astronomy on Facebook and Twitter.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Astronomy