A guide to the eclipse, full moon and comet extravaganza: Locations & time

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Comet
A meteor streaks across the sky in the early morning as people watching during the Perseid meteor shower in Ramon Carter near the town of Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel, August 13, 2015. Reuters/Amir Cohen

The skies will put on a show on Friday night unlike anything else in the recent past. A lunar eclipse, a full moon and a comet will grace the skies in an event that even the least sky-savy individuals will appreciate and be in awe.

A penumbral lunar eclipse: It is all in the details

Ocurring when the moon’s movement hits just the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, which is also known as the penumbra, a penumbral lunar eclipse is arguably not as visually spectacular as a full lunar eclipse. Because of this movement, the Earth in part blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. What results is a relatively darker moon, which Space.Com has reported will be darker than any of the lunar eclipses of its kind.

The eclipse will begin at 7:43 pm ET on Friday (11:43 am ACT on Saturday). However, only select locations will be graced with the opportunity this week. Europe, Africa, western Asia and North and South America are positioned to be in the appropriate line of sight.

The full “snow moon”: A necessary prerequisite

Like with all lunar eclipses, a full moon will be viewable on Friday as well. It is called a snow moon because, as Farmer’s Almanac has reported, Native Americans used to name each full moon to distinguish between months. Historically, February is when the Unites States receives the most snowfall, so the name was a fitting choice.

Comet 45P: Still a million miles away

Comet 45P has actually been visible after each sunset for about two months, but only with the help of binoculars and telescopes. However, at around 3 am ET (7 pm ACT) on Saturday, Comet 45P will be as close to the Earth as it ever will be this time around. The distance -- some 7.4 million miles -- is still astronomical and interested individuals are still likely to need binoculars or telescopes to view the same.

According to NASA, the comet will be visible near the constellation of Hercules and will have a bright green tail. The comet is no stranger to humans as it is said to be a rather ancient comet that was first discovered in 1948. Comet 45 will be visible again from the Earth’s surface on 2022.

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