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Wednesday's lunar eclipse: Best viewing conditions to unfold in western, southern US

A minor lunar eclipse will provide a treat for skywatchers this week.

Though subtle, this lunar eclipse will be visible on Wednesday morning, reaching peak around 7:47 a.m. EDT (4:47 a.m. PDT).

This event is known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, meaning the moon will move on the outer edge of the Earth's shadow. Though a dark, crescentlike shape will not appear, a dark, shaded section will be visible for those with clear conditions.

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Those in North America, Asia, Australia and part of South America will have a chance to see at least part of the celestial event.

While those in the eastern U.S. will miss out on the peak display due to the rising sun, clouds likely will obstruct the view for those hoping to catch a glimpse at the overall event.

"The northern half of the country will be fairly cloudy with the storm brewing from the Rockies to the central Plains," AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Englund said.

Clouds will stretch into New England as well, blocking any views leading up to the eclipse.

Skywatchers in the southern half of the country will have a much better chance to see at least some of the eclipse.

"The southeastern U.S. will have clear conditions, as well as the south-central part of the country," Englund said.

Along the West Coast, where the peak of the eclipse will be visible, clear skies will unfold. The ideal conditions will make for easy viewing of the event.

The window will be brief, however, to see the greatest shadow on the moon. Those hoping to take in the event should keep a careful eye on the clock.

Lunar eclipses, unlike solar eclipses, are visible without any equipment. However, it will take a focused pair of eyes to see the subtlety of this event.

Shadows have three parts, the umbra, penumbra and antumbra, which are used to describe the relation of the shadow to the degree of light casting it.

The umbra is where the shadow is deepest, as the light source is fully blocked by the object casting the shadow. The penumbra and antumbra occur on the edges of the umbra where some of the light source lessens the shadow.

The light cast on the moon during a penumbral eclipse obscures the view of the shadow cast, making the eclipse harder to notice.