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Look skywards on Wednesday for longest lunar eclipse of century

June 14, 2011 16:52 IST

The longest and darkest total lunar eclipse of the century will occur on Wednesday, giving sky enthusiasts all over the country an opportunity to witness the event.

An unusually long lunar eclipse with the Moon immersed deeply inside the umbral (darker) shadow of the Earth will occur tomorrow, Nehru Planetarium Director N Rathnasree said.

"The total phase of this lunar eclipse will last 100 minutes. The last eclipse to exceed this duration was in July 2000," she said.

The next such eclipse will only take place in 2141. The total lunar eclipse will begin at 00:52:30 IST and end at 02:32:42 IST. While the partial eclipse will begin at 23:52:56 IST and end at 03:32:15 IST.

The eclipse will be visible completely in Africa and Central Asia. It will be visible rising over South America, Western Africa and Europe, and seen setting over Eastern Asia and Australia, C B Devgun from Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators said.

The magnitude of the relatively rare total lunar eclipse will be 1.70, N Sri Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society of India said.

The next lunar eclipse to be viewed in India will be in December this year. Also, a star named 51 Ophiuchi will be occulted during the eclipse.

Sky enthusiasts can witness the whole sequence of the occultation in the zodiacal constellation of Ophiuchus.

At 11:29 PM on Wednesday, the Moon will occult (hide) behind the star 51 Ophiuchi. The star will reappear after 90 minutes at 01:01 AM of June 16, Kumar said.

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

This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned in a straight line.

Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science and Technology, along with the Nehru Planetarium and the Children's Resource

Center of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library will be organising an all night lunar eclipse 'Moon Carnival' for interested sky enthusiasts in the capital on Wednesday.

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