The next performance of light and shadow by the Earth-Moon-Sun trio takes place Wednesday morning when the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon creating a "penumbral lunar eclipse."
In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon falls under the dim edge, or penumbra, of the Earth's shadow, instead of the main part of the shadow called the umbra. As a result, the moon's face grows a bit dimmer instead of showing a clearly defined disc moving across it as can be seen in a regular lunar eclipse.
Although the penumbral eclipse lasts for more than four hours, viewers will only be likely to notice a slight shading on the north side of the moon for up to an hour or so, centered at the time of greatest eclipse around 6:33 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday, according to NASA. This assumes that fog or clouds aren't blocking our view of the moon at the time.
"It should be easily visible to the naked eye as a dusky shading in the northern half of the Moon," says the NASA website.
The eclipse will not be visible from the Eastern seaboard of the United States since it will occur after moonset there.
Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning will also showcase what is often referred to as the full beaver moon. According to the Farmers' Almanac, the name refers to the time that natives set beaver traps before the swamps froze so there would be a sufficient fur supply for the upcoming winter months.