New Delhi: The moon`s bright white glow turned into coppery, luminescent orange as the lunar surface was completely covered by the earth`s shadow during the last total lunar eclipse of this year.
The 51 minute-long spectacle of the moon being eclipsed and then turning cerise was visible all over the country, including the national capital.
The earth passed between the sun and the moon, casting a ruddy orange glow across the shiny, meteorite-battered lunar surface.
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 from Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), said.
"The total lunar eclipse with the Moon gliding into the umbral (darker) shadow of the Earth turning it a blood red was magnificent," Director, Nehru Planetarium, N Rathnasree said.
The maximum eclipse was seen at 20:01:50 PM IST.
While the eclipse began at 5.02 PM and is slated to end at 11.02 PM, the total phase commenced at 7.36 PM and got over at 8.28 PM.
"The crisp winter night offered an excellent view of the event," Arvind Paranjpye of Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, said.
The entire event lasted for nearly five hours, he said.
This eclipse is the longest (at 51 mins) till the year 2018, N Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society of India said.
India was one of the best places to see this celestial event because the eclipse was visible in its various phases (start to end), he said.
A similar opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse from start to end (in various phases) for people in and around India will come next on 27/28th July, 2018, he added.
As the earth came in between the sun and the moon, its shadow first began to sweep across the moon blocking out much of its bright light. The moon`s face turned crimson brick red as the shadow descended gently.
Many astro-enthusiasts gathered at the Nehru Planetarium to watch the cosmic event.
"I was just mesmerised by the way the lunar surface was completely covered by the earth`s shadow," Mamta Gupta, who along with her two children came, said.
People had also gathered at the India Gate to watch the eclipse.
The eclipse was also visible in the region covering Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, North America, Greenland, the Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, astrophysicist R C Kapoor, formerly with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said.
Nehru Planetarium along with Amateur Astronomers Association of India had set up telescopes and cameras in their ground to facilitate people in viewing the spectacle.
As many people are superstitious that eating food during eclipse harms the body, SPACE had organised a feast for people to help them break their false notions associated with the celestial phenomenon.
It encouraged them to eat during the eclipse and then report their health condition before and after the phenomena, SPACE scientific officer Mila Mitra said.