10.01.2020 – Penumbral lunar eclipse

Observation report

The penumbral lunar eclipse on the 10th January 2020 was actually a very relaxing astronomical event for me because the satellite images told early, that the weather models were completely right with their forecasts. At the beginning of the lunar eclipse the sky was still cloudy and the moon wasn’t visible yet. But already about 7.30 pm there were the first breaks in the clouds and the moon already appeared from time to time.  Short time I was a little bit worried, if maybe the clouds of the coal factories could have a bad effect on that wonderful event of nature but fortunately they moved across the sky in a little bit different direction than the position of the moon. The more and more scattered clouds together with the moon created already some wonderful pictures at the beginning because the moon showed also interesting effects like the lunar aureole. Already on the first pictures taken at about 7.30 pm the darkened part of the moon was relatively well visible but because of still passing clouds it wasn’t that easy yet because this clouds still changed the brightness of the moon in general. These conditions got much better at about 7.52 pm when there appeared already more huge areas of clear sky. Here the darkened area of the moon was clearly visible now and that also easily with the naked eye. Just a few minutes later, on time for the maximum of the lunar eclipse, the sky got completely clear and I was able to be part of that astronomical event while being at the inner courtyard. This was really good, because during the day there was a lot of rain and in the garden with the muddy ground, that wouldn’t have been that comfortable.

It was now 8.10 pm and we reached the maximum of this year’s lunar eclipse. The moon was right now with 92% in the penumbra of planet Earth and the darkened area which showed into the direction of the umbra was very easily visible. Beside my Canon PowerShot SX50 which I used to make some photo series of course also my Maksutov (127/1500mm) telescope was in action connected to my Canon EOS 500D for some more detailed images of the moon and the darkened area. In the meantime I also used some minutes to observe the +0.4 mag bright star Procyon (Alpha CMi) which is located in the constellation of Canis Minor and of course with its brightness one of the most noticeable stars in our nightly sky during the winter. Not far away from the star there is another less bright one with a light blue color. It has the identifier PPM 153086 and together these two stars look really nice. Just a little bit down of the stars the clouds of the factories passed by, which looked also really nice. Otherwise there were no special happenings during the eclipse and also the sky was absolutely clear and I was able to follow the eclipse absolutely relaxed and enjoying until the end. And as written on the website of Calsky the darkened area wasn’t anymore visible for the naked eye at 9.25 pm. But with the photo spread there is still an increase of the brightness visible until 10.15 pm when the moon left the penumbra of Earth completely. I think one reason for that was that the moon was higher in the sky that time, but surely also because it left the penumbra that time completely.

Finally we can say, that the penumbral lunar eclipses of course are visually not kind of the highlights of astronomical events. Nonetheless are also these astronomical events always a sight to see i you just imagine, what in detail is happening now in space. In addition to that, this happens not that often. To be here on Earth luckily on a good position and to be able to follow this natural spectacle, is for me always reason enough to follow all these and to enjoy every minute of them. Unfortunately now we have to wait longer time for the next lunar eclipse. Not until 16th May 2022 will be the next lunar eclipse which will be a total lunar eclipse. But this won’t be easy to observe because the moon will set already with totality. This total lunar eclipse will be therefore with less height over the horizon and so more difficulties about the location and maybe also weather conditions. Until that astronomical event of course there will be more others as for example finally again a (partial) solar eclipse on 10th June 2021 when the sun will be covered at least with about 25% by the moon.  




General information about the penumbral lunar eclipse on 10th January 2020

Also in the year 2020 we have the pleasure to be able to observe a lunar eclipse which will take place on 19th January. This time it will be a so called penumbral lunar eclipse because the moon will enter just the penumbra of the Earth, but not the umbra of it (this would be then a partial eclipse, or when the moon enters completly the umbra it would be a total eclipse). Also this time the moon will enter the penumbra quiet far and will get close to the umbra of  Earth so that the eclipse should be good visible also by the naked eye. This time about 92% of the moon will be within penumbra of earth and it should look a little more clear visible than at the example on the right side, when the moon entered for 76% inot th penumbra of Earth. The lunar eclipse will take place during the evening of Friday ad is quiet comfortable to observe also about its time shedule. The moon will reach a good height above the horizon during the eclipse and will be easily to observe, if the weather will allow it. More details also about the time shedule of the eclipse you will find a little bit more down under the text and weather forecast. The moon will enter the penumbra of Earth at about 6.05 pm but at this time this won’t be much visible. Showier it will get at about 6.55 pm when the visibility of the penumbral lunar eclipse will start and maybe already then there is a little bit darker area of the moon visible. At this time the moon will have a height of 19° above the horizon. The maximum of the eclipse will take place at about 8.10 pm where we should be able to see the darker area of the moon (the part that is in direction of the umbra of Earth) should be also good visible by the naked eye. The moon will have here a comfortable height of 31° above the horizon. At about 9.23 pm the visibility of the eclipse should end and the moon will leave the penumbra of Earh again at about 10.12 pm with a height of 49° above the local horizon.

Tips: While observing and for the documentation of a penumbral lunar eclipse it is highly recommended to take already some pictures before the moon enters the penumbra of Earth because these can be compared with the pictures later during the eclipse. It is good to use the same options for imaging. Also it’s possible to make wonderful photo series of the eclipse and it’s possible to see the process of the eclipse and do some animations of it. Also this time the darker area of the moon should be also visible to the naked eye.

Additional information:  The penumbral lunar eclipse has a total duration of abou 4 hours and 9 minutes. At the beginning of the eclipse the moon will be just about 0°44′ in distance to the 3.5 mag star Wasat (Detla Gem). In the further course the moon will go more away from the star. Other interesting objects lik for example planets are not narby the moon during the eclipse.


Table with times for the penumbral lunar eclipse for Bergheim at Germany on 10th January 2020:
6.05 pm:            Moon will enter the penumbra of Earth   (height: ~12°, ENE)
6:55 pm:             Start of the visibility of the eclipse   (height: ~19,4°, E)
8.10 pm:             Maximum of the penumbral lunar eclipse   (height: ~ 31°, E)
9.23 pm:             End of the visibility of the eclipse   (height ~41,5°, ESE)
10.14 pm:           Moon will leave the penumbra of Earth   (height: 49°, SE)