How to watch the 'buck moon' lunar eclipse this Fourth of July weekend

There's a partial penumbral eclipse on tap for the US on the night of July 4 and morning of July 5.

Look for a slight darkening of part of the moon on July 4 and 5.

Along with the Independence Day fireworks this year, skywatchers in the US may get to take in a bonus celestial show. A "buck moon" lunar eclipse is set for the night of July 4 and the morning of July 5, depending on where you are.

The eclipse will be visible across most of North and South America as well as parts of southwestern Europe and Africa. This NASA map shows visibility for the globe. Time and Date can help you pinpoint the best viewing window for your specific location. 

This visibility map shows where in the world you can catch the penumbral eclipse on July 4 and 5. 

F. Espenak/NASA

A penumbral eclipse is the chilled-out cousin to a total lunar eclipse. Total eclipses can plunge the moon into a cloak of red. The moon this weekend will only catch part of the Earth's outer shadow, known as the penumbra, so you'll be looking for a very subtle change as a bite of the moon turns a little darker than normal. 

The July full moon is known as the "buck moon," a name traced to the Maine Farmer's Almanac in reference to male deer growing out their antlers.

The eclipse won't be as dramatic as the fireworks expected across the US on July 4. As NASA said in a June skywatching update, "the slight reduction in the moon's brightness will be difficult to notice with the human eye." That doesn't mean you shouldn't try. With clear skies, you will be still be treated to a lovely full moon. 

For more on how to view and enjoy eclipses, both lunar and solar, check out our eclipse guide.