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Rare Penumbral Lunar Eclipse to Grace Australian Skies Tonight

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Australians are in for a celestial treat tonight as a rare penumbral lunar eclipse is set to grace the night skies. This unique event, where the moon almost aligns perfectly with the sun and Earth, will cast the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, onto the moon’s surface.

Dr. Shannon Schmoll, the director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University, describes the eclipse experience as a gentle darkening gradient happening across the moon’s surface. While the change may not be stark, keen observers may notice subtle variations in brightness as the eclipse progresses.

The visibility of the penumbral eclipse depends on one’s location on the night side of Earth during the event. Regions including Europe, North and South America, Australia, and parts of Asia will have the privilege of observing this natural phenomenon. In Australia, the eclipse will reach its peak at 7.03 pm in Sydney and 7.29 pm in Melbourne.

Unlike total lunar eclipses that often display a red hue, penumbral eclipses are more subtle and do not require special equipment for observation. Dr. Schmoll highlights that all one needs is an unobstructed view of the moon during the event, as lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye. She also underlines the broader significance of these celestial occurrences as a reminder of our place in the universe.

For residents of South Australia, the eclipse will begin on Monday, 25 March 2024, at 7:11 pm ACDT, wrapping up at 8:02 pm ACDT. This makes it the only eclipse event visible from Australia until March of the following year, offering a unique opportunity for Australians to connect with the celestial spectacle.

Tonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse presents a moment for individuals to marvel at the wonders of the universe and enjoy a shared experience of observing the celestial shifts in our night sky, fostering a sense of global community.

Rachel Adams

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