Here’s how to watch the Buck Moon eclipse

July 2020’s full Buck Moon penumbral eclipse will be visible today in most countries around the world, except North America. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t miss it, because even though the next penumbral lunar eclipse will roll by on 29 November 2020, it won’t be visible from South Africa. And if that isn’t bad enough, 2021 will only have two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses.

Unfortunately, only the last solar eclipse of 2021, on 4 December, will be visible from South Africa. So really, this is the last shot we have at seeing an eclipse in a while.

What is a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes exactly behind the Earth and into its shadow. It happens when the Earth, Moon and Sun are very closely aligned.

In addition, a total penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon becomes “completely immersed in the penumbral cone of the Earth without touching the umbra”. In other words, the Moon passes through the very narrow penumbra, or outer shadow.

Why is it called Buck Moon Eclipse?

Tonight’s eclipse is called the Buck Moon Eclipse because July’s full moon is known as the Buck Moon; it coincides with the time of the year when male deer shed their antlers.

July marks the time of year when deer antlers regrow, and the name originates from Native American history. Other names include Thunder Moon and Hay Moon, as the full moon also coincided with the July hay harvest in the northern hemisphere.

Half blood thunder moon
A partial lunar eclipse is seen behind fully bloomed cherry blossoms in Utsunomiya in Tochigi prefecture, 100km north of Tokyo on 4 April 2015. Sky-gazers in part of the Pacific Rim enjoyed an “unusually brief” total eclipse of the Moon. Photo: AFP Yoshikazu Tsuno

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac:

“Traditionally, the Full Moon for July 2020 is called the Full Buck Moon because a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode at this time. This full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month.”

The names assigned to full moons come from Native American tribes as they used full moons to keep track of the seasons. June’s full moon, for example, is known as the Strawberry Moon, while August’s will be Sturgeon Moon.

Also read — Full Moon July 2020: Here’s the meaning behind its many names

When to see July’s Buck Moon Eclipse

July’s Buck Moon Eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of Sunday, 5 July 2020. It will begin at 5:07 South African Standard Time (SAST) and peak at 6:29. The eclipse will last for approximately 2 hours and 45 min.

Lunar eclipses are global events. That means that viewers on the night-side of Earth will be able to watch it simultaneously. But you have to factor in the time zones, and that’s where it gets tricky.

How to watch a lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipses are among the easiest sky-watching events to observe and it’s perfectly safe to look directly at a lunar eclipse, unlike a solar eclipse. Simply go out, look up and enjoy.

You don’t even need a telescope or any other special equipment, although it wouldn’t hurt. Using binoculars or a small telescope will bring out details in the lunar surface.

It might be chilly, so if you’re going to wait around outside for the eclipse, dress warmly. Take an extra blanket and warm drinks if you can. If all else fails, watch the live stream of the eclipse below

Watch: July 2020 lunar eclipse live stream

[H/t Space, TimeAndDate]

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