How to see triple treat of lunar eclipse, snow moon and comet in South Yorkshire skies on same night

Skygazers in South Yorkshire are in for a spectacular treat this week - with a triple celestial spectacle this Friday.

Wednesday, 8th February 2017, 12:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 11:30 am
There's a triple treat for skygazers this Friday.

On February 10 stargazers will be able to see not one, but three spectacular astronomical events.

Firstly, a lunar eclipse will take place on the same day as February's snow moon.

Then the New Year comet will whoosh past as it makes its closet approach to Earth since 2011.

Here's everything you need to know about all three.

What is a snow moon?

Snow moon is simply the name of February's full moon, because historically it's always been the snowiest month in America.

Some native American tribes also traditionally referred to it as the Hunger Moon, because hunting was very difficult in snowy conditions.

The snow moon will rise at 4:44pm GMT on Friday, February 10, and will set at 07:30 GMT on the morning of Saturday, February 11.

When can I see the penumbral eclipse?

Like other lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the moon and sun, blocking out the sun's light and casting a shadow on the surface of the moon.

But don't get too excited, they aren't as dramatic as total or partial eclipses. In fact they're very subtle and on Friday night the full moon will just look slightly dimmer than usual. This is because it will be passing through the Earth's penumbra - the technical name for the outer shadow of our planet.

If you're keen to catch a glimpse, the eclipse will last for just over four hours and will be visible from Europe, most of Asia, Africa and most of North America.

In the UK, it will begin at 22:34 GMT, but the best time to see it will be just after midnight on Saturday, February 11, at 00:44 when the moon is 51 degrees above the horizon. The whole spectacle will be over at 02:53 GMT.

How can I see the New Year comet?

Technically known as Comet 45P, the New Year comet was discovered by Moniru Honda in 1948, and is named after Moniru Honda, Antonín Mrkos, and Ľudmila Pajdušáková.

It makes an appearance every five-and-a-quarter years and has been visible around the world since December - including over the New Year.

This weekend, it will come just 0.08 Astronomical Units (7.4 million miles) from Earth as it makes its closest approach since 2011. Stargazers should look up at the constellation Hercules from midnight on February 10/11 and look out for its blue-green 'head' and fan-shaped tail.

If the sky is clear and free of light pollution, it should be visible to the naked eye but a pair of binoculars will probably be handy.

Nasa says on its website: "The comet then passes through the constellations Corona Borealis (the Northern Crown), Boötes (the Herdsman), Canes Venatici (Boötes' hunting dogs) and Ursa Major. Then on to Leo by the end of February. It moves swiftly - 9 degrees each day."

If you miss it, Comet 45P will be back again in 2022.