Parts of Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, and the Indian Ocean Region will bear witness to the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century tonight. The ‘blood moon’ eclipse is estimated to last for a total of one hour and 43 minutes.
On this day, the Sun, Moon and the Earth are in perfect alignment with each other, with the Earth in the middle, preventing sunlight from reaching the moon. The moon will spend a total of 4 hours travelling around the earth and partial eclipses will occur before and after the total eclipse. The partial eclipse begins at 10:54 pm IST ending at 11.19 pm, with the total eclipse starting at 12.00 am and ending at 01.43 am. Stages of the eclipse will also be visible in parts of South America.
When the full moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it will darken completely. Sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere will light up the moon, turning it red. Depending on the weather conditions the appearance may be rusty, brick-coloured or blood-red. This happens because blue light undergoes stronger atmospheric scattering, so red light will be the most dominant colour highlighted as sunlight passes through our atmosphere and strikes the moon.
Mars will also accompany the red moon, reportedly being the closest to Earth that it has been in 15 years. Mars will be at its closest approach since 2003, 35.9 million miles away. However, it won’t appear as large as the red moon, and weather conditions will affect the intensity of its appearance. The best part is that this eclipse will not require the use of protective glasses for the eyes.
In India, Chandra Grahan has a number of superstitions associated with it, such as avoiding any food or drink during the eclipse or having a mandatory bath immediately after the eclipse. Other superstitions include discarding stored food in the house as it is believed the micro-organisms in the food grow rapidly during this period, making it unfit for consumption, and also avoiding contact with any sort of sharp object.
Whatever you may believe in, there’s no denying that this eclipse will truly be a sight to behold!