Skywatchers in most of the United States have the chance to see a Fourth of July lunar eclipse tonight. But the minor Independence Day eclipse will be difficult to spot and observers shouldn't expect mind-blowing views of the moon in Earth's shadow..

The July full moon will pass into the lightest part of the shadow of the Earth, which is called the penumbra. The penumbral lunar eclipse will thus see the moon's surface darken very slightly. But even if you can't see the eclipse that well, the moon is always a fun observing target.

The eclipse will start on tonight at 11:08 p.m. EDT (0308 GMT Sunday, July 5) and end on Sunday at 1:53 a.m. EDT (0553 GMT), according to At most, depending on your location, 35 percent of the visible moon will pass into the light shadow of the Earth. The reduced surface eclipse will make it even harder for amateurs to see the light eclipse unless you have good photographic equipment.

The eclipse will start just 14 minutes before the full moon, called the Buck Moon or the Thunder Moon, according to NASA's SkyCal. The moon will also be within a few degrees of Jupiter, and Mars will be visible in some regions in the constellation Pisces, said Rao. A little less than 14 hours after the eclipse ends on Sunday, the moon and Jupiter will be conjunction at 5:38 p.m. EDT (2138 GMT), shining less than two degrees apart in Earth's sky.

Most of the United States will see the eclipse, with some regions viewing the moon at the apex of its path across the sky and out of the range of the worst of light pollution. Alaska is excluded, however, and those in western parts of the southern 49 states will only see part of the show. Regions seeing at least part of the eclipse around the world include South/West Europe, much of Africa, much of North America, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and Antarctica.

July's full moon has also been called the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon, as July is considered to be the season with the most frequent thunderstorms and the time of year when farmers harvest, bale and stow hay for the upcoming winter.

July Moon names from different cultures Raptor Moon (Hopi). Smoky Moon (Maidu). Ripe Moon (San Juan). Crane Moon (Choctaw). Claiming Moon (Celtic). Rose Moon (Neo Pagan). Peaches Moon (Natchez). Ducks Moult Moon (Cree). Ripening Moon (Mohawk). Grass Cutter Moon (Abernaki). Buffalo Bellow Moon (Omaha). Hungry Ghost Moon (Chinese). Ripe Squash Moon (Algonquin). Raspberry Moon (Anishnaabe). Salmon River moon (Wishram). Mead Moon (Medieval English). Middle Summer Moon (Ponca). Middle Summer Moon (Dakota). Red Berries moon (Assiniboine).

Young Corn Moon (Potawatomi). Buffalo Bellows Moon (Arapaho). Wild Red Cherries Moon (Sioux). Corn Popping moon (Winnebago). Ripening Moon (Passamaquoddy). Horse Moon, Ripe Moon (Apache). Summer Moon (Colonial American). Dropping Deer Horns Moon (Kiowa). Ripe Corn Moon, Hay Moon (Cherokee). Sun House Moon (Taos Native American). Claiming moon (Full Janic), Blessing Moon (Dark Janic). Little Harvest Moon, Blackberry Moon, Little Ripening Moon (Creek). Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Summer Moon (Algonquin).


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