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Yesterday the third-shortest partial lunar eclipse of the 21st century was visible.

The Earth’s dark shadow – known as the umbra – barely clipped the full moon causing a partial lunar eclipse, which lasted no longer than 27 minutes. It was visible in most parts of the Earth, except South and North America.

Later this year there will be two more partial lunar eclipses and on April 15 2014, a total lunar eclipse is expected.

Why and when do lunar eclipses happen?

A lunar eclipse only occurs when there is a full moon and when the moon lies opposite the sun in the Earth’s sky.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the Earth moves in between the moon and sun, causing the Earth’s dark shadow to completely cover the moon’s surface.

The Earth’s shadow has two parts: a dark inner umbra and lighter surrounding penumbra.

Watch the video

A partial lunar eclipse happens when only part of the moon is covered by the Earth’s dark shadow.

Watch the video

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