On the evening of May 5, eyes were fixed on the sky for a light penumbral eclipse of the moon, which was only visible from Italy in its final stages. The event, less impressive than the total or partial eclipse but nonetheless remarkable, began at about 17:15, when the Moon entered the semi-conical cone projected by the Earth, i.e. into the outer part of the Earth’s shadow. The lunar disk did not darken but appeared only faintly obscured: its climax was reached at 19:24, when the Moon was still below the horizon for us, while it was clearly visible from Antarctica, Asia, Russia, Oceania and central-eastern Africa. The exit from the semi-shadow cone, around 21:30, marked the end of the phenomenon.
“The near-hidden eclipse is a far-fetched but undeniably interesting show, if only to test itself in accommodating the slight dip in the brightness of the lunar disk due to the Earth-fixed sunshielding,” explains the astrophysicist. Gianluca Massey, scientific director of the Virtual Telescope. “The shadow guide is modest, and the brightness of the full moon can make it more difficult to estimate, but it’s certainly not impossible: the effect is ultimately more noticeable than you might think.”
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