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Sky gazers witness dimming of moon

Last Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 13:23

New Delhi: A yellow shining full moon turned into a dim red one early this morning as sky watchers witnessed the penumbral lunar eclipse.

Though only a fractional diameter of the Sun was eclipsed by the Earth, it was closely monitored by scientists and amateur astronomers all over the world, Director Nehru Planetarium Rathnasree said.

Lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth in such a way that the earth blocks the sun`s rays from falling on the moon, she said.

In a penumbral lunar eclipse, the lighter part of the earth`s shadow (penumbra) falls on the moon.

The eclipse began at 4:34:17 am and ended at 7:34:09 am.

The ecliptic conjunction occurred at about 6:30:00 am and the point of maximum eclipse was at 6:10:11 am.

The moon was in the constellation Capricornus during the eclipse and thus sky watchers in Europe, South America and Africa were best placed to see it. It was seen rising over eastern North America and setting over Asia.

The eclipse was the faintest penumbral eclipse of the year with a penumbral magnitude of 0.899. It was not easily visible to the naked eye as the penumbral shadow was very faint, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) Director C B Devgun said.

The eclipse is only of academic interest as no shading can be detected visually.

This year the total solar eclipse of July 22, 2009, fell between two penumbral lunar eclipses - one which occurred on July 7 and today. The last such instance was in 1908 and the next will be in 2074.

The country has already witnessed two penumbral lunar eclipse on February 9 and July 7. Another partial lunar eclipse will be visible on December 31.

On July 22, sky gazers witnessed a total solar eclipse, an event which will be seen after 123 years.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 13:23
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