Thursday, December 31, 2009

After 1741, 2010 to witness lunar eclipse on NEW year day.

On a full blue moon day on Thursday, skywatchers will have a bonanza when they find the lunar radiance, rather dim, as the country witnesses a partial lunar eclipse. The phenomenon, according to astrophysicists, is only the second time since 1741 when the world saw a lunar eclipse on a New Year’s day.

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only part of the Moon passes through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow.

The eclipse is scheduled to begin when the Moon enters the Earth’s shadow at 10:47 pm, and it ends at 02:58:11 am. The start of the partial eclipse will be at 00:22:43 am on January 1, 2010. It will end at 01:22:41 am.

“Although the partial phase of the eclipse lasts for an hour, only 7 per cent of the diameter of the Moon is covered by the umbral shadow of the Earth, which is too negligible to be easily visible,” said N Rathnashree, director of Nehru Planetarium.

When a second full moon in a calendar month appears in the night sky, the occurrence is known as a blue moon. There are 12 full moons most years, but every two or three years there is an extra full moon which is called a blue moon.

“Such an eclipse of the Moon will be difficult to discern with naked eye—although an astrophotograph of the Moon might just show a hint of darkening over a very tiny region of the Moon,” Rathnasree said.

According to scientists, the astronomical event can be seen all over Asia and Europe, major parts of Africa and a small portion of southwestern Australia.

“The beginning, the middle and the ending of the eclipse will be visible from all parts of India,” Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) Director C B Devgun said.

The beginning of the umbral phase will be visible from the extreme southeastern part of Australia, middle of South and North Pacific Ocean and extreme Solomon Island. The ending of the umbral phase will be visible from North and South Atlantic Ocean and Greenland.

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