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Not just fireworks! What’s happening in space this 4th of July weekend?

A full moon, penumbral lunar eclipse, aphelion and planetary conjunction all visible in the sky this weekend

A slight shade is cast on the moon as see outside WKMG studios on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. A penumbral lunar eclipse happens when the Earth's outer shadow created by the sun, known as the penumbra, creates a slight eclipse of the moon.
A slight shade is cast on the moon as see outside WKMG studios on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. A penumbral lunar eclipse happens when the Earth's outer shadow created by the sun, known as the penumbra, creates a slight eclipse of the moon. (Emilee Speck/WKMG)

ROANOKE, Va. – While many fireworks displays have been canceled, there may be a few other things that catch your eye this holiday weekend! The full ‘Buck’ moon rises on the 4th, and it does so in conjunction with a few friends.

Jupiter and Saturn will shine near the moon upon nightfall. Their position relative to the moon will change from Saturday to Sunday to Monday nights. A reconstructed diagram from EarthSky shows what that may look like.

Moon and planets together in the night sky this weekend

Meanwhile, a penumbral lunar eclipse will happen between 11 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, with the maximum eclipse occurring at around 12:30 a.m.

Don’t expect a red hue to the moon, though. Penumbral refers to the Earth’s outer shadow (penumbra) being cast over the moon. You may notice a faint gray appearance, but that’s about it.

Penumbral eclipse to occur this weekend

The last thing is something you won’t see. This is called ‘aphelion,' or the farthest point away from the sun in Earth’s annual orbit.

Aphelion takes place this 4th of July weekend

This further proves that our seasons on Earth aren’t dictated by our distance from the sun, but rather the angle of the sun.


About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.