Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

PHOTOS: Green Comet, 'Snow Moon' And Eclipse Make For A Space Trifecta

A diptych of the lunar penumbral eclipse in progress, as seen by Slooh Community Observatory telescopes in the Canary Islands.
A diptych of the lunar penumbral eclipse in progress, as seen by Slooh Community Observatory telescopes in the Canary Islands.

If you just so happened to crane your neck skyward at night this week — or better yet, if you craned your neck downward to look in your telescope — you probably caught quite a show.

The night sky has been busy lately: A full moon, known by the Farmer's Almanac as a "Snow Moon" since it happened in February, took center stage on Friday night.

Nevertheless, it still got over shadowed by Earth — literally, as a matter of fact. For several hours in the early evening ET, the outer edge of Earth's shadow darkened the face of the moon for observers in most of the world.

Yet remarkably, even this rare moment didn't make for the week's main event.

That honor goes to the Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková, which has been streaking across the night sky this week. While the comet has been visible to astronomers for months, this weekend it has been making its closest approach to Earth — more than 7 million miles away.

In fact, Comet 45P's approach is Earth's closest encounter with a comet in more than 30 years, according to Scientific American.

To observers with telescopes, the comet stood in vivid green among the stars.

The 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková, as seen on Wednesday with <a href="http://live.slooh.com/">Slooh Community Observatory</a> telescopes. This image was captured two days before it reached its closest approach to Earth on Friday.
/ Courtesy of Slooh Community Observatory
The 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusáková, as seen on Wednesday with <a href="http://live.slooh.com/">Slooh Community Observatory</a> telescopes. This image was captured two days before it reached its closest approach to Earth on Friday.

And to observers using time-lapse technology, like , that light actually streaked across the sky — as it does in this image.

But if you have missed the comet entirely this week, have no fear: Slooh recorded its progress live on Friday night. You can track Comet 45P — even if a bit belatedly — in the video posted on the group's Facebook page.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.