The first of two lunar eclipses for 2016 occurs this week. A penumbral eclipse begins at 9:39 Universal Time (UT) on Wednesday, March 23rd, reaches its peak at 11:48 UT with the Moon 78% immersed in the Earth’s penumbral shadow, and ends on 13:55 UT. Today’s eclipse will span over four hours and 15 minutes.
The eclipse occurs during moonrise for Far East Asia Wednesday night, and moonset for the Americas on the morning of Wednesday, March 23rd.
The central Pacific will witness the entire eclipse crossing the International Dateline, with the Moon high overhead for observers in Hawaii.
A penumbral eclipse occurs when the Moon just grazes the outer faint shadow of the Earth, missing its dark inner core known as the umbra, as occurs during a total lunar eclipse.
Standing on the Earthward-facing side of the surface of the Moon this Wednesday, you’d see a partial solar eclipse looking back at the Earth.
Earth will witness another penumbral lunar eclipse on September 16 of his year, but the next total lunar eclipse doesn’t occur until January 31, 2018, again favoring the Pacific and western North America.