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Set Your Alarms, There's A Lunar Eclipse On The Horizon

The Moon herself -- or himself, suit yourself -- is getting in on the Apollo 11 anniversary action by putting on an early morning show.

On Wednesday, Australia will have front row seats to a partial lunar eclipse --  the last observable lunar eclipse of any kind until 2021.

It's perfect timing, as we gear up to celebrate 50 years since man first set foot on the moon.

"I like to think of it as the moon’s tribute to the great human endeavour to reach it and go beyond," ANU astronomer Dr Brad Tucker said.

A lunar eclipse occurs at full moon when the earth finds itself in between the moon and the sun. When this happens, earth blocks the sun's light from getting to the moon, therefore casting a shadow.

In the event of a total lunar eclipse, the sun, earth and moon are perfectly lined up, covering the entire moon with the darkest part of the earth's shadow.

A lunar eclipse. Image: NASA

During a partial eclipse, this alignment is slightly off, making it look as if a big chunk has been taken from the side of the moon.

"You will not see the whole moon disappear, but just enough to make the spectacle worthwhile for stargazers around the country,” Dr Tucker said.

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Weather permitting, what you see and when you see it will depend on where you live.

“On the east coast, the eclipse will start around 6am and end around 6.45am, when the moon starts to set,” he said.

“Western Australia will have the best view, with the partial eclipse beginning around 4am local time and ending around 7am.”

Best viewing times (all times local):
  • Canberra: Begins at 6.01am, ends at 7.14am.
  • Sydney: Begins at 6.01am, ends 7.02am.
  • Melbourne: Begins at 6.01am, ends 7.38am.
  • Hobart: Begins at 6.01am, ends 7.44am.
  • Brisbane: Begins at 6.01am, ends 6.40am.
  • Darwin: Begins at 5.31am, ends 7.13am.
  • Adelaide: Begins at 5.31am, ends 7.27am.
  • Perth: Begins at 4.01am, ends 6.59am.

You won't need any special equipment to see the event, which will be visible to the naked eye.

If 6am is a tad too early to stare up at the sky in your pyjamas, your next chance to do so will be during a total eclipse on May 26, 2021.

Feature image: Getty