Updated | January 30, 2018 17:10 IST
By now you likely have heard of the lunar phenomenon "super blue blood moon" taking place on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Excitement is growing, even at NASA, where they plan to live stream the moon as it dazzles skywatchers in a few days.
On the 31 st of January a rare lunar event will take place. This is a total lunar eclipse which will be visible from India. During the lunar eclipse the Earth comes exactly in between the Sun and the Moon or to put it differently, the earth’s shadow will fall on the Moon. If the three are almost exactly on the same line, we have a total lunar eclipse, according to a press release by the B.M. Birla Science Centre. Even during a total lunar eclipse some of the sun’s rays get refracted through the earth’s atmosphere and strike the Moon which thereby takes on a low brown red glow which is what will happen on the 31 st . So some people call this the Blood Moon, says Dr. B.G. Sidharth, renowned physicist and Director of the Centre.
Additionally there are two other coincidental features. This is the second Full Moon in the month and that is often called a Blue Moon, in a manner of speaking though, essentially, it has nothing to do with the colour blue, he said. Furthermore, the positions and distances of the Moon and the earth relative to the Sun on this occasion are such that the Moon would appear slightly bigger about 10% or more and so a little brighter on this day. Such a phenomenon is called a Super Moon. What this means in practice is there may be slightly higher tides in rivers and seas that day but nothing very alarming.
The total lunar eclipse which can be seen from everywhere in India begins at 5.20 in the evening with what is called the partial shadow or penumbra of the earth’s shadow striking the Moon. This is not a significant sight. The main eclipse will start around 6.25 p.m. after sun set. This can be seen in the Eastern sky as the Moon would have just risen by then. 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 and after that it will recede and in an hour’s time, that is around 7.25 p.m. the main part of the eclipse would be over.
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