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Slight and Subtle Lunar Eclipse for Washington / Oregon Coast On Sunday

Published 11/26/20 at 6:55 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Slight and Subtle Lunar Eclipse for Washington / Oregon Coast On Sunday

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(Portland, Oregon) – The end of this month will allow those in Washington and Oregon (and the coastlines) to catch a subtle but intriguing kind of lunar eclipse. (Above: July's penumbral eclipse)

It’s not the most exciting or dramatic sight in the skies for the Oregon coast or Washington coast, but it is fascinating science and rather fun to photograph. A penumbral lunar eclipse will occur on the night of November 29 through after midnight on the 30th, meaning it’s a very slight eclipse that will simply darken the moon a shade or two. Total duration of this is four hours and 21 minutes here in the Pacific Northwest, according to OMSI astronomer Jim Todd.

“Eclipse watchers in Portland will see that first contact with the penumbra occurs at 11:32 p.m. PST. with the full moon 64 degrees above the southern horizon,” he said.

This will be the second of two penumbral lunar eclipses in 2020; the last penumbral lunar eclipse was on July 4 of this year. Oregon Coast Beach Connection snagged numerous photos of it over a period of time, showing some shade differences.

“A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and full moon are in a straight alignment,” Todd said. “The earth’s shadow has two parts: a dark inner umbra and a lighter surrounding penumbra. It is this lighter penumbral shadow of earth that the moon will enter on November 29 - 30. The penumbra can be light enough that some viewers cannot detect a difference on the moon’s face during a penumbral eclipse, even while the eclipse is in progress. “

The moon will be far enough above the horizon to be quite visible – if northwest weather provides, of course. Todd said the moon rises at 4:18 p.m. on November 29, and sunset happens about ten minutes later. The moon will reach its closest to the center of the shadow at 1:42 a.m. PST (Nov 30). as it is 57 degrees above southwestern horizon.

Todd said it will be hard to see unless you’re photographing the moon over a period of time.

“The penumbral magnitude of the eclipse is 0.829,” Todd said. “When the penumbral magnitude of an eclipse is less than 1, only a small part of the Moon's diameter is covered by the lighter part of Earth's shadow. This happens during a penumbral lunar eclipse. Such eclipses are hard to view by observers on Earth.”

The whole thing ends about 3:53 a.m. as the shadow stops touching the moon.

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“During the eclipse, the full moon will be in the neighborhood of the constellation of Taurus and Orion above the southern horizon (below),” Todd said. “The Pleiades, Seven Sisters (M45), will be to the far right of luna. Just 3 degrees to lower left of the moon is the red giant star, Aldebaran, of Taurus, the Bull. At magnitude of -1.15, the red planet Mars will be to the far lower right.”

Todd said solar eclipse always happens about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, but sadly the Oregon coast or Washington coast will not get to see it. The next solar eclipse is seen from South America on December 14.

However, not all is lost for those of us in the Pacific Northwest. Todd said in 2021, Portland can look forward the next total lunar eclipse on May 26 (4:18 a.m. PDT) and November 18 (1:08 a.m. PST). More eclipse photos below

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