The next performance of light and shadow by the Earth-Moon-Sun trio takes place Wednesday morning when the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon creating a "penumbral lunar eclipse."
In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon falls under the dim edge, or penumbra, of the Earth's shadow, instead of the main part of the shadow called the umbra. As a result, the moon's face grows a bit dimmer instead of showing a clearly defined disc moving across it as can be seen in a regular lunar eclipse.
The eclipse will peak around 6:33 a.m. Pacific time, and should be detectable between 6-7 a.m., according to NASA. This assumes that fog or clouds aren't blocking our view of the moon at the time.
"It should be easily visible to the naked eye as a dusky shading in the northern half of the Moon," says the NASA website.
The penumbral lunar eclipse is one of 4 eclipses in 2012. Other eclipses for the year are:
- An annular solar eclipse on May 20-21, 2012
- A partial lunar eclipse on June 4, 2012
- A total solar eclipse on November 13-14, 2012
The eclipse will not be visible from the Eastern seaboard of the United States since it will occur after moonset there.