How to see this weekend's 'snow moon' eclipse and comet

- There's a lot to see in the night sky this weekend, but you'll have to know where and when to look if you want to see it all. 

Friday night, a full moon, a partial lunar eclipse, and even a comet will all be visible, assuming skies are clear.  Fortunately, the weather forecast looks good for most of Florida, so grab some binoculars and go find a good, dark spot.

Here's how to see each event:


The full moon, not surprisingly, will be the easiest thing to spot.  The February full moon is traditionally known as the 'snow moon' for reasons that are probably obvious to anyone who has lived up north.

Moonrise will be in the east at 6 p.m. for the state's east coast and closer to 6:15 in the Tampa area.  It will set at 7:30 the next morning.


When the moon rises, a partial lunar eclipse will already be underway.   The moon will be passing into Earth's outer shadow, or penumbra, but it won't be blacked out like a full eclipse -- only the northern part of the moon will be shaded.

Peak darkness will be at 7:44 p.m., then the moon will gradually appear brighter as it moves out of our shadow.  The entire event will be over by 10 p.m.

The next eclipse of any kind for Floridians will be a rare total solar eclipse on August 21, though only about 80% of it will be visible from Florida.  Then there will be lunar eclipses each year in January 2018 and 2019.


The most unusual sight of the weekend will also be the hardest to see.  In fact, you won't be able to see Comet 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdušáková with your naked eye at all.

The pale green comet is very faint and may be tough to spot even with binoculars, and all that light from the full moon won't help.  But if you want to hunt for it, point your specs towards the constellation Hercules in the eastern sky just before dawn.  It's not too far east from Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky, so that may help point you in the right direction.

The comet will actually reach its nearest point to Earth on Sunday, then head back out into space before swinging back this way in another five years.

LINK: The astronomy website Slooh will be live streaming observations of both the eclipse and the comet:

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