While a partial lunar eclipse will occur as the full “beaver moon” glows in the early morning sky, skywatchers will be treated double as November 2020 approaches.
Beaver moon – nicknamed as such because it is the time of the year when the beavers build their winter dams in preparation for the cold winter, the beaver month will reach its fullest phase on Monday, November 30, at 4:30 am Eastern time. So, Sunday night and Tuesday night will also appear big and bright in the sky – assuming the clouds don’t block your view.
(Unfortunately, a major rainstorm is expected to shake the New Jersey area on Monday, and it could linger until early Tuesday.)
Partial lunar eclipse
When the moon begins to fill in the early hours of Monday morning, there will be a partial lunar eclipse known as a semi-shadow eclipse. While not as dramatic as a complete lunar eclipse, experts say it can be seen by sky watchers in New Jersey and other parts of North America.
According to astronomy experts at EarthSky.org, a semi-shadow eclipse occurs when the moon drifts outside of the Earth’s shadow or semi-shadow and some of the sun’s rays are blocked from shining on the Moon during this time.
Space.com astronomy writer Joe Rao says on Monday morning, “The moon will take 4 hours and 21 minutes to shift to the pale outer edge of the Earth’s shadow (penumbra), the shadow will never reach its dark umbrella.”
“About 20 minutes before the deepest phase of the eclipse, you can see some evidence of this pale halftone shade on the upper edge of the moon,” says Rao. “This corresponds to approximately 4:22 am EST; 3:22 CST; 2:22 MT and 1:22 PST.”
If this were a full lunar eclipse rather than a partial lunar eclipse, the entire moon would briefly darken and give a reddish-orange color.
By the way, it is completely safe to view the lunar eclipse with a telescope, binoculars or your own eyes. No special filters are required.
The origin of the beaver moon nickname
The nickname “beaver moon” comes from the Algonquin Native American tribes and American colonists who gave nicknames to every full moon according to the weather conditions at that time of the year, their farming routines, and hunting trends.
Some publications such as TimeAndDate.com say that November got its name “after the beavers that built winter dams at this time of year.”
Farmers’ Almanac says the nickname may have been taken from beavers preparing for winter in November, but he notes that it may have something to do with hunters. “This was the time to set up beaver traps before the swamps freezed to provide warm winter fur,” says the publication.
Other nicknames for the full moon
Just like other full moons throughout the year, the November full moon has created several different nicknames over time.
In addition to the popular nickname “beaver moon”, the full moon of November was invented as the “hunter moon”, “mourning moon”, “reed moon” and “frost moon” – a reference to the cooling of the weather during this month.
The last full moon of 2020
If you do not have the chance to see the full moon of November, you can look for the “cold moon” of December.
This month will officially reach its fullest phase at 22:28 Eastern time on Tuesday, December 29, so the night before (December 28) and the next two nights (December 30 and December 31) will look big.
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