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Lunar eclipses happen when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. As the Moon orbital plane around Earth has a tilt of 5 degrees with the Earth's orbit around the sun, lunar eclipses don't happen every month, but only a few times per year. The color of the eclipsed Moon is always more or less of a surprise: depending on the cloudiness in the Earth's atmosphere (as viewed from the moon) and high-level dust, the moon may be anything between a bright orange/rusty color to almost invisible. If the Moon passes partly through the umbra (shadow) of the Earth, the lunar eclipse is called partial; if the Moon passes through the penumbra (partial shadow) of the Earth, the eclipse is penumbral. Penumbral eclipses are almost not noticeable.

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