Wednesday's total lunar eclipse to offer rare moon phenomena

Wednesday's total lunar eclipse to offer rare moon phenomena

The total lunar eclipse on Wednesday would be visible from India with the moon taking a red-brown glow, also called the "Blood Moon", the BM Birla Science Centre's Director, BG Sidharth, said here today.

The event would also bring about the Blue Moon and the Supermoon phenomena, a release from the centre said.

Explaining the phenomenon, Sidharth said that during the lunar eclipse, the earth comes exactly between the sun and the moon and the earth's shadow falls on the moon.

"If the three are almost exactly on the same line, we have a total lunar eclipse. Even during a total lunar eclipse, some of the suns rays get refracted through the earths atmosphere and strike the moon, which thereby takes on a low brown red glow which is what will happen on January 31st. Some people call this the Blood Moon," Sidharth said.

The total lunar eclipse, which can be seen from everywhere in India, begins at 5.20 pm with what is called the partial shadow or penumbra of the earths shadow striking the moon, a release from the centre said.

The main eclipse will start around 6.25 pm after sunset and this can be seen in the eastern sky as the moon would have just risen by then, it added.

"A slight sliver of the moon first gets covered in what is called the umbra, the total shadow, and slowly this spreads for several minutes. After that, it will recede and in an hours time, that is around 7.25 pm, the main part of the eclipse would be over," the release said.

The release informed that this would be the second full moon in the month and it is often called the "Blue Moon".

It said that the positions and distances of the moon and the earth, relative to the sun on this occasion, were such that the moon would appear slightly bigger (about 10 per cent or more) and a little brighter on this day.

"Such a circumstance is called a Super Moon. What this means is that there may be slightly higher tides in rivers and seas that day but nothing very alarming," the release said.

The release informed that superstitious beliefs, like not eating anything during a total lunar eclipse, have no scientific basis whatsoever.

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