Early Phase of the Lunar Eclipse of Oct. 8, 2014

Here is a preview of an early phase of the lunar eclipse at 5:30 a.m. EDT on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 8.
Credit: Starry Night

Most of North America will witness a total eclipse of the moon Wednesday (Oct. 8), but the morning sky, weather permitting, will also hold a surprise for intrepid skywatchers interested in seeing another celestial body alongside the eclipsed moon.

The planet Uranus will be in opposition to the sun on Tuesday evening, placing it very close to the full moon during the total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning. Uranus is just around the limit of naked-eye visibility at magnitude 5.7, so interested observers will need binoculars to spot it. Even in the most powerful telescopes, Uranus is so far away that it will be only a tiny, featureless, blue-green disk.

The lunar eclipse officially begins when the moon slips into the faint outermost shadow of the Earth, called the penumbra. This shading, which occurs at 4:15 a.m. EDT (0815 GMT) on Wednesday, is so subtle that it might be invisible to the casual observer.

via See Uranus with a Shadowy Full Moon During Total Lunar Eclipse.