India to witness darkest lunar eclipse Wednesday

June 14th, 2011 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) India will Wednesday witness the darkest lunar eclipse of this century with an expected duration of 100 minutes, considered by astronomy institutions to be one of the longest.

“This will be one of the longest-duration eclipses, of 100 minutes, and also the darkest as the moon will pass deeply through the earth’s umbral (dark) shadow,” said Mila Mitra, scientific officer and event head at NGO Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE).

As the moon slips into the earth’s umbra, it will slowly assume a coppery red colour, making it a not to be missed spectacle.

This will be the darkest lunar eclipse over the Indian skies this century. The previous darkest lunar eclipse took place four decades back, on Aug 6, 1971.

The eclipse is the first of the two total lunar eclipses that were forecast for 2011.

The second occurrence is slated December 10.

“It is a relatively rare central eclipse where the moon passes in front of the center of the Earth’s shadow,” added Mitra.

The eclipse will be completely visible over Africa and Central Asia, rising over South America, West Africa and Europe, and setting over East Asia, and Australia.

Earlier this year, two solar eclipses have also occurred but they were not visible in India.

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