Double celestial treat awaits sky gazers

Last Updated: Friday, June 25, 2010 - 21:33

New Delhi: A double celestial treat
awaits sky gazers as a partial lunar eclipse and opposition of
Pluto will be visible in the night.

The penumbral eclipse will begin at 14:27 hours and
end at 19:49 hours, while the partial phase of the eclipse
will start at 15:46 hours and end at 18:29 hours, R C Kapoor,
a researcher at Indian Institute of Astrophysics, told a news agency.
The eclipse will be visible in eastern Asia,
Australia, Antarctica, parts of America, Indian and Pacific
oceans, he said. In eastern Asia, people in India, Nepal,
Singapore and Malaysia among others will be able to see it at
the moon-rise only.

Parts of northeast India will witness the moon rising
in the eclipse, whereas rest of the country will be
disappointed.

The eclipse will be at maximum at 17:08 hours. During
the phenomenon, 53 per cent of the moon disc will be covered
by the umbral or the dark part of the earth`s shadow.

The entire event can be watched with naked eyes but a
binocular or a telescope may provide a detailed vision.

According to Kapoor, lunar eclipses are safe to look
at because the moon only shines by reflecting sunlight -- the
intensity of its radiation is quite low.

On eclipse night, the moon will lie in the
constellation Sagittarius -- the archer. The next lunar
eclipse will occur on December 21.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth is in a direct
line between the sun and the moon, and the shadow of the earth
falls on the moon, president of NGO Science Popularisation
Association of Communicators and Educators C B Devgun said.

The other phenomenon will be Pluto at opposition.

Opposition in astronomy means when a celestial object
is on the opposite of the sky from the sun, when viewed from
the earth.

Pluto will be visible almost all the night, rising
around the sunset, culminating around midnight and setting
around sunrise as its orbit brings it closest to the earth,
making it appear bigger and brighter.

The second dwarf planet will be visible at 00:30 hours
tomorrow with a magnitude of 14.

During the opposition Pluto will be 30.843
astronomical unit (4,626,450,000 kms) away from the earth.

To watch the event, one will need a telescope, with
aperture at least 25 cm.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 25, 2010 - 21:33

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