This Saturday is Independence Day for those of us here in the U.S. And amid the current state of affairs surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not the 2020 fireworks that have everyone talking—it’s the impending 4th of July Lunar Eclipse.
The event will take place on Saturday evening at 11:04 p.m. EDT and continue on into Sunday morning, but that’s not all. Sunday, July 5th, also begins a special Full Buck Moon (or Thunder Moon) making the upcoming eclipse even more visual—or so we thought, unfortunately.
The truth is that the Independence Day spectacle is what’s known as a “penumbral eclipse” not a total Lunar Eclipse. This occurs when the Earth blocks the Sun from directly reaching the Moon. In laymen’s terms, a large portion of the moon will pass through Earth’s shadow—meaning, the eclipse itself is sure to be underwhelming. There will be little-to-no change, with just roughly 35 percent of the penumbral shadow ever-so-slightly shading the moon. Many of us won’t even notice it.
Which begs the question, should you skip this 4th of July Lunar Eclipse?
This answer is no.
Yes, this celestial phenomenon will certainly disappoint on the subject of an eclipse. And yes, there’s a good chance you won’t notice any relevant change in the sky. However, Independence Day’s evening sky will still showcase one of the summer’s most iconic moons, the Buck Moon.
What Is A Full Buck Moon?
This Full Moon—which only happens in July—is named for the new antlers that grow from a deer buck’s head around this time of year. It’s also called “Thunder Moon” for the thunderstorms that occur during this summer month.
So while 2020’s 4th of July Lunar Eclipse will surely be faint—and our firework displays have been modified or canceled—it’s still worth it to stargaze this Saturday night. If only for a clear glimpse of July’s Full Buck Moon and the stars beyond it.