Science

Full moon, comet starring in night sky show this weekend

Posted February 8

 Jupiter shines brightly above Wednesday's full moon. (Credit: Tony Rice)

— A full moon and comet share double billing in a special night sky show this weekend, and stargazers in the Triangle will have a great chance of enjoying both.

A lunar eclipse starts everything off Friday night. The moon will pass into Earth's penumbra, or outer shadow. The moon won't be blacked out like in a full eclipse. Only part of the moon will be shaded, but it should be easily visible thanks to clear skies, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Comet 45P, meanwhile, will zoom past Earth early Saturday. It will be a close encounter as these things go, passing within some 7 million miles.

Comet 45/P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková will move through the constellation Hercules, rising around midnight and remain above the eastern horizon until dawn. 45/P reaches its closest point to Earth on Sunday morning. Binoculars and telescopes will help in the search.

Stargazers have been tracking Comet 45P for the past couple months. The ice ball comes around every five years.

Those hoping to enjoy both celestial events should bundle up, as Maze says overnight lows Friday into early Saturday will be in the mid-30s.

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