A 'penumbral lunar eclipse' is coming: How to see it and why it matters

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A ‘penumbral lunar eclipse’ is coming: How to see it and why it matters

July 1, 2020 -

© astrosystem/stock.adobe.com

© astrosystem/stock.adobe.com

© astrosystem/stock.adobe.com

Your fireworks display may be canceled this Fourth of July weekend, but the universe will nonetheless provide a show in the sky.

Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the full moon will graze Earth’s shadow, creating what astronomers call a “penumbral lunar eclipse.” Weather permitting, the eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America and all of South America.

The show will begin Saturday at 11:07 p.m. EDT and last until 1:52 EDT on July 5. The best time to look will be about 12:30 a.m. EDT. If you look at the full moon during that time and the skies are clear, you may notice that it’s slightly darker than usual.

The western US should have clear skies, as should much of Texas and parts of the Midwest. Clouds may be a problem across the Deep South, New England, and parts of the central US, however.

According to the report, observant people will recognize the shadow, while others won’t notice anything at all.

To recap: if you want to see the penumbral lunar eclipse, you need to be up at 12:30 a.m. EDT. Your skies need to be clear. And you need to be observant. If you do not meet all three criteria, the show will go on without you.

How to see it and why it matters

Therein lies a spiritual principle worth remembering today.

These are the most stressful days in my memory. We have faced economic crises, health challenges, political divisiveness, and racial tensions in the past, but never all at the same time. In radio interviews and personal conversations, I am often asked how we can continue to believe that God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful when his world is so broken. How can we find him in days when we need him most?

Today’s news about the coming lunar eclipse reminds us, however, that our perceptions do not change reality.

The eclipse will happen, whether you are living in a part of the world that can see it or not. It will go forward, whether you are up to see it or not or are observant enough to notice. Your experience of the eclipse does not alter the eclipse.

As C. S. Lewis noted, the man who denies the sunrise does not harm the sun.

This principle is worthy of emphasis because it is so neglected in our postmodern culture. We have been taught that truth is personal and subjective, that you have “your truth” and I have “my truth.”

It is true that we each perceive the world through our uniqueness. But it is also true that the world exists whether we perceive it or not. I have never met the Queen of England, but this fact does not change her reality.

Applied to these difficult days, we do well to remember that our circumstances do not change God’s character. He loved us enough to send his Son to die for us, and since his nature does not change (Malachi 3:6), he still loves us as much as he did when he watched his Son die in our place.

He is as powerful as he was on the day he created the universe. He is as available to us as he was to Moses at the burning bush and John on the prison island of Patmos. Nothing about these pandemic days has changed his character or his love.

The King who rules the universe is as close as your next prayer.

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