On May 5, 2023, stargazers worldwide will be treated to a celestial spectacle as the first lunar eclipse of the year takes place. The event, a penumbral lunar eclipse, is the second eclipse of the current eclipse season and is set to be visible from India.
During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbra, or the faint outer part of the planet’s shadow, while just missing the darker, inner part of the shadow known as the umbra. This occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are not perfectly aligned, causing the Earth to partially block the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon’s surface.
While the magnitude of the penumbral lunar eclipse will be relatively low at -0.046, it is still set to be an impressive astronomical event. In fact, according to timeandate.com, the May 5 penumbral lunar eclipse will be the deepest of its kind until September 2042.
For those hoping to witness the spectacle in person, finding a dark area devoid of light pollution is key. This could be an open field on the outskirts of a city or any location where no lights interfere with the view of the sky above.
It’s also important to allow time for eyes to adjust to the darkness, so arriving at the viewing spot around 30 minutes before the penumbral eclipse begins at approximately 8:44 pm IST on May 5 is recommended. The eclipse will last for four hours and 18 minutes, with the maximum phase occurring at around 10:52 pm IST.
During the maximum phase, the Moon will be almost entirely inside the Earth’s umbra, causing it to appear darker than usual. In fact, instead of the usual round cookie shape, the Moon will have a noticeable dark shade.
For those living in metropolitan areas, finding a suitable viewing location may prove challenging. Fortunately, several YouTube channels will be live-streaming the event, including Rocketry Dreamer Live.
It’s worth noting that the May 5 penumbral lunar eclipse is just one of several eclipses set to occur this year. The current eclipse season, which lasts for approximately 35 days, includes at least two eclipses. The first eclipse of the season was a rare total solar eclipse that occurred on April 20, 2023.
The next eclipse, set to take place on October 14, 2023, will be an annular solar eclipse, while a partial lunar eclipse is scheduled for October 28-29. So, mark your calendars and get ready to witness some truly awe-inspiring celestial events this year.