The Full Worm Moon brings the first lunar eclipse of 2024 next week. Here’s how to see it

By | March 20, 2024

During the next two weeks, two eclipses will occur on the astronomical scroll. The main event will be of course the Great North American Eclipse on April 8 that will extend from the Pacific coast of Mexico to Texas and across the southern and eastern parts of the United States and Atlantic Canada before ending over the northern Atlantic Ocean.

But two weeks before the total solar eclipse, during the night hours of March 24 to 25, it is the moon’s turn to undergo an eclipse; a prelude to a great event coming our way at the beginning of April. That last full moon before the total solar eclipse, March’s Worm Moon, will quietly enter Earth’s outer shadow, known as the penumbra.

The continents of North and South America are in the best position to observe this lunar eclipse as it occurs high in the sky as the night of March 24 turns into March 25. It takes 4 hours and 40 minutes for the moon to pass over the pale moon. outer edge (penumbra) of the Earth’s shadow and never reaches the dark umbra of the shadow.

Related: Full moon March 2024: The Worm moon is eclipsed
Read more: Lunar eclipses 2024: when, where and how to see them


A Celestron telescope on a white background

A Celestron telescope on a white background

Looking for a telescope to get a closer look at the features of the full Worm Moon? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top choice in our best telescope for beginners guide. Don’t forget a moon filter!

Both the lunar and solar eclipses are of course connected. A solar eclipse can only occur when the moon is at a node in its orbit. (The nodes are the two points where the moon’s path in the sky crosses the sun’s path, called the ecliptic). During the solar eclipse on April 8, the moon will cross the ecliptic from south to north. But half an orbit earlier, on March 24 and 25, the moon will pass the opposite node from north to south and encounter the Earth’s shadow. The time frame in which this geometry allows eclipses to occur is called an “eclipse season” and in this case runs from March 16 through April 23. All of this is a great example of how an eclipse season works.

In this specific case the moon will go very deep into the penumbra. In fact, at the time of the deepest phase/greatest eclipse (7:12 UT), the penumbra will reach an extent of 95.8 percent across the lunar disk. In other words, the lower part of the moon will be at a distance of 453 km from the invisible edge of the Earth’s umbra.

However, penumbral eclipses are quite subtle events that are usually difficult to detect; the shade is pale. In fact, the first contact with the penumbral shadow is virtually impossible to detect. But just over an hour later, those with exceptionally sharp eyesight might be able to spot a very faint shadow cast from the moon’s lower left edge.

About half an hour either side of the time of the maximum solar eclipse, at least 70 percent of the moon’s diameter will be submerged in shadow; a marked reduction in light consistent with a “spotted” or “dirty” appearance; a slight grayness on the lower part of the moon should then be quite clearly visible.

But admittedly, it’s a rather disappointing event.

a map of the world showing an obscured area centered in North and South America, extending east and west to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceansa map of the world showing an obscured area centered in North and South America, extending east and west to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

a map of the world showing an obscured area centered in North and South America, extending east and west to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans

The grid

Our timetable below provides the times for the major eclipse events for five time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific and Hawaii. All times are for the calendar date of March 25, unless marked with an asterisk

in which case the calendar date is March 24.

For the eastern US, the maximum eclipse occurs about a few hours before daybreak on March 25. Along the West Coast it will be just after midnight, while for Alaska and Hawaii it will be mid to late evening. hours of Sunday, March 24.

The penumbral solar eclipse of the moon

It may be easier to understand why Earth’s penumbra is so faint by imagining that you are actually on the moon when Monday’s event occurs. An astronaut on the moon will see a solar eclipse during this time, but it would all depend on where on the moon our hypothetical moonwalker is.

Near the moon’s upper limbs is the region known as Mare Frigoris – the ‘Sea of ​​Cold’. From here, the Earth’s silhouette appears to cut a small notch from the top of the Sun; barely enough to cause a noticeable reduction in light on the surrounding lunar landscape. Therefore, the upper part of the full moon will appear to shine normally.

In contrast, viewed from Tycho, the famously brilliant lunar impact crater whose rays make it resemble a sunflower on the southern part of the moon, the Earth will appear to be more than nine-tenths of the diameter of the sun; as a result, the brilliant solar illumination of the surrounding moonscape will become considerably more somber.

And this reduced effect of sunlight's glare and illumination on the moon's surface is exactly what diligent sky watchers will try to detect during the deepest phase of the eclipse when they focus their gaze on the moon's lower edge during Monday's maximum phase .  early solar eclipse.the moon appears slightly darker as the Earth's shadow passes over it

the moon appears slightly darker as the Earth’s shadow passes over it

the moon appears slightly darker as the Earth’s shadow passes over it

Upcoming attractions Another lunar eclipse is scheduled for later this summer. On the evening of September 17the moon will pass through the lower part of the earth’s shadow

, his upper limb delivering a swift blow to the dark shadow of the earth. At the greatest solar eclipse, 8.5 percent of the moon’s diameter will be within the umbra, creating the appearance of the moon’s top being slightly dented. Next year, on the night of March 13 to 14, 2025, the moon will set total embezzlement. For 65 minutes,the moon will become completely submerged in the shadow of the earth

; always a very interesting and usually colorful spectacle. Once again America will have a ringside seat, with all the action taking place high in the late winter sky; during the early morning hours in the east and around midnight in the west.

Mark your calendars!

If you’re interested in taking photos of the Full Worm Moon’s penumbral lunar eclipse, check out our handy guide to photographing the moon for the best moon photography tips and tricks. We also have guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography if you need to prepare for these or other celestial events. Joe Rao is an instructor and guest lecturer in New YorkHayden Planetarium . He prescribes on astronomyNatural history magazine the Farmer’s almanac

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