A lunar eclipse is a fascinating natural phenomenon that occurs when our planet is caught between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon. Moreover, there are completely different types of this incredible natural phenomenon. The penumbral lunar eclipse is undoubtedly the most interesting of these eclipses, which vary with the position of the Earth and Moon in the sky and each time allow millions of people to experience a visual feast. So what is a penumbral lunar eclipse, the last of which will take place on May 5? Let’s take a look at the historical traces of a penumbral lunar eclipse and what exactly it is.
Lunar eclipses are one of the most spectacular natural phenomena that take place in the sky.
The eclipses that occur when our Earth is between the Moon and the Sun create an exceptional opportunity for humanity to experience. During these eclipses, the Moon sometimes takes on bewitching colors, and sometimes gets lost in the shadows …
The penumbral lunar eclipse to which this article is dedicated is a natural phenomenon that sky lovers around the world are looking forward to. But there are some things that make a penumbral lunar eclipse different from other types of lunar eclipses.
Before looking for traces of penumbral lunar eclipses in history, it is useful to study the history of lunar eclipses in general.
The earliest known written records of lunar eclipses date from 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.
The first known written records of lunar eclipses were created thousands of years ago by the priests of the Chinese Shang Dynasty.
The oracles wrote their prophecies about when the next eclipse would occur on the bones of cattle and sheep. Moreover, in these prophecies that they wrote down, the Chinese soothsayers also spoke of various forms of lunar eclipses, and also spoke of a penumbral lunar eclipse, which is the subject of our article. But, of course, the Chinese oracles did not call this interesting natural phenomenon a penumbral lunar eclipse.
The word “penumbra” was first used in 1604 by the famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler.
Kepler intended to designate “shadows, unlit and gray areas” with the term penumbra, which he first used in his work Astronomae Pars Optica. That is why he combined the Latin word paene, meaning “almost, almost”, with umbra, meaning “shadow”, and coined the term penumbra.
The famous astronomer used the term to refer to dark areas around the edges of partially illuminated round objects, and penumbra meant that which was in shadow and away from the main light source.
What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?
In fact, Kepler’s term penumbra contains quite a few clues as to what a penumbral lunar eclipse is. However, to explain it more simply, a penumbral lunar eclipse is roughly used to describe situations where the Moon passes through the extreme point of the shadow cast by the Earth. This is what distinguishes a penumbral lunar eclipse from other eclipses: the Moon is almost in shadow.
During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Moon is difficult to observe, as the Moon remains in the farthest faint shadow of the Earth.
This is why penumbral lunar eclipses are mostly a natural phenomenon that only professional skywatchers can enjoy. But, of course, attentive eyes can follow this exciting journey on the moon.
For those who want to “see” what a penumbral lunar eclipse is, it is enough to carefully examine the sky on the night of Friday, May 5, 2023.
The eclipse will be visible from all over Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe as the Moon enters our planet’s partially illuminated shadow and becomes progressively darker.
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