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Country witnesses partial lunar eclipse

August 17, 2008 15:22 IST

Avid sky watchers had a good time watching a celestial show, the lunar eclipse, which took place in the wee hours of Sunday.

The earth's shadow swept past the moon turning a yellow shining full moon into a dim red one, and finally blackening it out of view.

The awesome spectacle of the moon vanishing totally was visible all over the country, including New Delhi [Images].

In the capital, the swirling monsoon clouds turned spoilsport for avid stargazers at around 3 am.

"After 3 am, the eclipse was playing hide and seek, the sky was cloudy," Nehru Planetarium's Educator Anurag told PTI.

As the earth came in between the sun and the moon, its shadow first began sweeping across the moon at 23:53 pm blocking out much of its bright light.

As the shadow descended gently, the moon's face turned red and was finally hidden from view. The maximum partial eclipse was at about 2:40 am when the shadow started
disappearing slowly to make the moon partially visible.

The moon entered the penumbra stage at 23:53 pm, while it entered the umbra stage at 1:01 am. It came out of the umbra stage at 2:40 am and finally left the penumbra stage at 5:27 am.

The magnitude of the eclipse was 0.813, meaning that it was an 81 per cent partial lunar eclipse.

"The sky turned red when the eclipse was at its maximum, the disc of the moon also turned reddish," Anurag said.

The eclipse was visible in the region covering Antarctica, Australasia except New Zealand [Images], Asia except north eastern part, Europe, Africa and South America.

The beginning of the umbral phase was visible from the western part of Pacific Ocean, northern part of Japan [Images] and north eastern part of Russia [Images]. The ending of the umbral phase was visible from south western part of Pacific Ocean, north eastern part of South America and Greenland.

The interesting aspect of Lunar eclipses is that the actual event and its different phases was witnessed at the same time all over the world.  Longitudinal differences would define that time to be different in different regions, Director, Nehru Planetarium, Rathnasree said.

For instance, while South America would be witnessing the eclipse at Moonrise on the evening of the August 16, Australia [Images] would be witnessing it at Moonset in the morning of the 17, although, the two regions and the rest of the world, are witnessing it at the same intrinsic time, she added.

The last total eclipse of Moon [Images] occurred on February 21, 2008. Another partial lunar eclipse would occur on February 9, 2009.

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