Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Century's longest and darkest lunar eclipse

The moon's bright white glow turned crimson brick red when it delved into the dark centre of the earth's shadow during the century's longest and darkest lunar eclipse on Wednesday night.

The awesome spectacle was visible all over the country, including the national capital.

The full moon appeared much dimmer than usual, but sunlight passing through the earth's atmosphere gave the lunar surface a deep reddish hue.

This was the century's longest and darkest total lunar eclipse as the moon immersed deeply inside the umbral (darker) shadow of the earth, Nehru Planetarium Director N. Rathnasree told PTI.

The total phase lasted 100 minutes. The last eclipse to exceed this duration was in July 2000.

The next such eclipse will only take place in 2141.

The penumbral lunar eclipse began at 22:54:34 IST and will end at 04:30:45 IST (on Thursday), she said.

The total lunar eclipse began at 00:52:30 IST and will end at 02:32:42 IST, while the partial eclipse began at 23:52:56 IST and end at 03:32:15 IST.

As the earth came in between the sun and the moon, its shadow first began sweeping across the moon, blocking out much of its bright light and as the shadow descended gently, the moon's face turned red.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth, in the course of its orbit around the sun, comes between the moon and sun in such a way that the moon is hidden in the shadow cast by the earth.

This can occur only when the sun, earth, and the moon are aligned in a straight line, C.B. Devgun from the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) sai

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