Birla Planetarium ready for lunar eclipse

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Jul 27, 2018 02:38 PM IST

Arrangements are being made in B M Birla Planetarium in Chennai for people to view lunar eclipse, even as students visit the premises

Chennai: The city is set to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century tonight. It is expected to last for 103 minutes. Stargazers can observe the moon being blanketed by the earth's shadow for over six hours that starts from 11.54 pm today to 3.49 am tomorrow.

The B M Birla Planetarium in Chennai is making special arrangements for public to experience the eclipse. The event starts by 11.00 pm and goes on till 4.00 am.

S W Soundararajaperumal, Executive Director in-charge, Tamilnadu Science and Technological Centre

Speaking to News Today, Executive Director in-charge, Tamilnadu Science and Technological Centre, SW Soundararajaperumal, said, "On this particular night, the shadow of the earth takes the shape of a cone that extends upto 14 lakh kms. The moon would be away from the earth by 4,06,222 kms and hence it (moon) would be small in size that is known as micro moon. Since the moon is faraway, the micromoon takes longer to revolve around the earth when compared to the full moon which is a phenomenal happening."

"Only on rare occasions would the moon reaches the imaginary line that connects the sun and the earth and finally circulates across the earth's shadow which is happening tonight," added he.

The total phase where the moon crosses the earth's darkest shadow, umbra, begins by 1.00 am and ends by 2.43 am tomorrow.

The total lunar eclipse is said to be clearly visible in India and partially visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

A similar event occurred on 16-17 July, 2000 and it lasted for 46 minutes and 26 seconds. The next such eclipse is predicted to occur on 25-26 June, 2029 that could last for 102 minutes.

The lunar eclipse can be observed through telescopes and with naked eye, for better experience and is said to cause no harm.