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This Triple Cosmic Experience Is Coming Tonight

If skies are clear in your area Friday night, look up and enjoy an amazing cosmic trifecta — a full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet streaking by earth.
If skies are clear in your area Friday night, look up and enjoy an amazing cosmic trifecta — a full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet streaking by earth. (Public Domain)

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If skies are clear in your area Friday night, look up and enjoy an amazing cosmic trifecta: a full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet streaking by Earth.

This month's full moon is nicknamed the "snow" moon, a name that dates back to the Native Americans, according to the Farmers' Almanac.

"The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon," the almanac reports. "Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred."

During the full moon, sky watchers will see a "penumbral" lunar eclipse.

That means the moon is moving through the outer part of Earth's shadow (the penumbra). It's much more subtle than a lunar eclipse because the earth only blocks part of the sun's rays from reaching the moon. 

The Eastern time zone will likely start to see the gray shading around 6:14 p.m., according to Alan MacRobert and Kelly Beatty, senior editors at Sky & Telescope

By the middle of the eclipse, at 7:44 p.m. Eastern time, the northern third of the moon will be a noticeably darker gray, said astronomer Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

After mid-eclipse, the graying begins to fade to the moon's normal brightness. The moon fully leaves the penumbral shadow at 9:55 p.m.

A few hours later, Comet 45P will make its closest approach to Earth at only 7.4 million miles away, according to NASA. 

It can be seen most clearly through binoculars or a telescope and will have a greenish "head" with a tail.

Copyright The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., All rights reserved. 

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