The First Of Two Consecutive ‘Beaver Moon Eclipses’ Delights Sky-Watchers

In the early hours of Monday a full Moon passed into Earth’s shadow in space, with those in North America, Australia and parts of Asia having the best view.

For much of the world it was merely a regular full Moon, though the sight of it rising in the east as a temporarily muted orange orb remains one of the most underrated in nature.

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Known in November as either the “Beaver Moon” or the “Frosty Moon,” a full Moon is 100% illuminated by the Sun for just a moment each month when it’s positioned on the “other side” of Earth to the Sun.

However, the Moon appears to be full to onlookers for a night or so either side of that global moment.

What was unusual about Monday’s full Moon is that for a few hours it didn’t receive the Sun’s light directly.

All planets cast a shadow, and Earth’s stretches 870,000 miles/1.4 million km into space. When the Moon is in its full phase—i.e. the Sun, Earth and Moon are lined-up—our satellite occasionally passes through Earth’s shadow.

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Earth has two shadows; its outer, fuzzy penumbral shadow and its inner, darker and redder umbral shadow. On Monday, November 30, 2020 about 83% of the Moon passed through Earth’s penumbra to cause a penumbral lunar eclipse.

Monday’s celestial event was the first of two successive “Beaver Moon Eclipses.” A partial lunar eclipse is set for November 19, 2021.

It happened as China’s Chang’e 5 spacecraft orbited the Moon while preparing to land. Although official details are scant, it appears that Chang’e 5 could be about to land on the lunar surface and begin its mission; to collect more moon rock and lunar soil that any mission since NASA’s Apollo 17 mission in 1972. 

The penumbral lunar eclipse also lined-up something special for two weeks’ time. The path of the Sun through our sky, and the orbit of the Moon around the Earth, are not aligned. There’s about a 5º difference.

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Lewis Hamilton delights in his 98th career pole at Bahrain F1 GP

Lewis Hamilton took pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix with an absolutely dominant series of laps at the Sakhir circuit. On top throughout qualifying, the world champion was almost untouchable. Finishing with a fine run at the sharp end he beat his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second. Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull with his teammate Alex Albon in fourth and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez in fifth.

a close up of a fire truck: Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/EPA

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/EPA

Hamilton, who has two poles previously in Bahrain, once more found an immaculate touch here. He led throughout and when it really mattered stepped up to a level his rivals could not match. On his first hot run in Q3 he set a time of 1min 27.677sec, pushing his Mercedes to the limit with consummate control. He had more than a tenth on Verstappen and two-tenths over Bottas, who was in identical machinery.

On their final hot runs, Hamilton found even more. Wanting to stamp his authority on the session, the world champion’s confidence was clear as he went out first and laid down a marker to the rest of the field. He promptly went even quicker, fastest in every sector, and closed with a 1:27.264, four tenths up on his previous lap. Bottas made it Mercedes’ 11th front-row lockout in second but he was still two-tenths down, with Verstappen a full four-tenths behind. It was an object demonstration in why the world champion took the title this season with three races to spare.

a close up of a fire truck: Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes en route to taking pole for the Bahrain F1 GP.

© Photograph: Kamran Jebreili/EPA
Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes en route to taking pole for the Bahrain F1 GP.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were in sixth and seventh, AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat in eighth and 1oth, with McLaren’s Lando Norris in ninth.

This is Hamilton’s 98th career pole, the most any driver has scored, and with two meetings remaining he still has the chance to be the first to make it to 100 this season. He is very much on a roll, having closed out his seventh world championship to match Michael Schumacher’s record with a remarkable win at the last round in Turkey.

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