ibnlive » India

Dec 10, 2011 at 11:21pm IST

Longest total lunar eclipse leaves enthusiasts spellbound

New Delhi: This year's last total lunar eclipse on Saturday presented a celestial spectacle for people all over the country, including those in the national capital, in the pre-dusk hours.

In a clear sky over the national capital, the full moon slowly slipped into the earth's darker shadow starting just after 5:02 pm.

"The lunar eclipse started at 5:02 pm and could be seen with naked eyes," Director of Nehru Planetarium, N Rathnasree said.

Lunar eclipse leaves enthusiasts spellbound

The full moon slowly slipped into the earth's darker shadow starting just after 5:02 pm.

Astronomy enthusiasts and sky-gazers gathered at the Nehru Planetarium and India Gate to watch the moon's bright white glow giving way to a cerise red.

Amateur Astronomers Association, in association with the Nehru Planetarium, had set up telescopes and cameras to enable people watch and take photographs of the celestial phenomenon.

"It was a memorable experience. I saw the moon slipping into the darker shadow," Shreyansh, a school student, said.

The maximum eclipse was seen at 20:01:50 pm IST. The eclipse began at 5:02 pm and will end at 11:02 pm. While the noticeable Umbra phase began at 6:15 pm, it will end at 9:48 pm.

The sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere gave the lunar surface a deep reddish hue.

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, C B Devgun of Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) said.

People living in eastern Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and western Australia will also able to watch the entire eclipse, from beginning to end, Arvind Paranjpye, scientific officer of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, said.

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