The century’s longest total lunar eclipse takes place tonight and India will be able to witness the entire event. In India, the lunar eclipse is referred to as Chandra Grahan and there are various superstitions and myths attached with the celestial phenomena as well. Superstitions aside, the total lunar eclipse is a rare phenomena, which one does not want to miss.
Tonight skywatchers will able to witness a blood moon, starting late at night and continuing till the early hours of the July 28. The lunar eclipse will be visible in most part of India, though clouds are likely to play spoilsport. The lunar eclipse is also coinciding with another celestial phenomena: Mars opposition when the Sun, Earth and Mars are aligned in a straight line. On July 31, Mars will be in the closest position to the planet Earth.
Here’s everything you need to know about the total lunar eclipse of July 27, why this one matters, and what will be the timings for India.
Lunar Eclipse, blood moon 2018: Timings in India
Keep in mind that tonight is a total lunar eclipse, and a blood moon, where the Moon takes on a red colour. This is the century’s longest lunar eclipse, which will last nearly 103 minutes, according to NASA. However, the Moon is at its farthest point from Earth, which means it will appear smaller in size. However, this total lunar eclipse is longer than Super Blue blood Moon of January 31 this year, which lasted 76 minutes. The only problem for residents of India is that the timings are such that we will have to ski sleep to see the Moon turns bright red colour.
The first part of the lunar eclipse will see the Moon fall partially under the Earth’s shadow, which should start around 11.44 pm IST on July 27. When this happens, the Moon will not be visible and a partial lunar eclipse sets in, which will peak at 11.54 pm.
However, the total lunar eclipse, which is when the Earth completely blocks the Sun from the Moon’s path, will set in from 1 am IST on July 28. The lunar eclipse will be visible in all of India, according to the charts shared by NASA. The only problem will be the weather with cloudy skies likely to cause viewing problems.
This is also time when the Moon will turn red at the highest point of the eclipse. The total lunar eclipse will last till 2.43 am, after which the Moon will begin to move outside the Earth’s shadow. After 2.43 AM IST on July 28, we will witness another partial lunar eclipse as Moon continues on its orbit, and pulls away from the Earth’s shadow also known as the Umbra. Remember, a total lunar eclipse only takes place when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned and the Earth completely blocks sunlight from reaching the satellite.
Lunar Eclipse July 2018: Which places will be able to watch the event?
According to NASA’s website, parts of South-America, parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia will be able to enjoy the eclipse. All of Asia and Eastern Africa will get to watch the entire eclipse. This includes India as well. This is good, because there’s no total lunar eclipse for India till 7, September 2025, according to NASA. There will be partial eclipses, but for that total lunar eclipse it will be a long wait.
Lunar Eclipse July 2018: Why does the Moon turn red? What is a Blood Moon?
The Moon turns ‘blood red’ colour due to scattering of sunlight. The Earth blocks sunlight from reaching the Moon, but some indirect sunlight still manages to reach the satellite. But because it passes through Earth’s atmosphere, only the red light, which has a longer wavelength and can travel longer distance is allowed to pass.
Shorter wavelength light like blue, yellow light, etc is filtered out. That’s why the Moon appears red as it can only reflect the red light which has reached the satellite. Blood moon refers to the brightest shade of red, that the Moon will reflect at the height of the lunar eclipse. However, during volcanic eruptions, the Moon can take on a darker shade of red, and can appear very dark.
According to NASA, the shade of red also depends on the amount of dust in the air. It notes that if the Earth had no atmosphere, the Moon would be completely black during a total lunar eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse July 2018: What is the significance?
For starters, this is the longest eclipse in the century at 1 hour, 43 minutes. Second, as we already noted, according to NASA’s lunar eclipse timetable, India will not get to witness another event like this till September 2025 and that is a long wait. The total lunar eclipse matters because this is also when we get to see a Blood Moon rise in the sky.
Lunar Eclipse July 2018: Is it safe to watch?
The simple answer is yes. The event, unlike a solar eclipse, is totally safe to watch. You need not cover your eyes with extra protective filters to view this. event If you missed the Super Blue Blood Moon of January 31, this is a good chance to catch another Blood Moon. Ignore the superstitions associated with it, and enjoy the celestial event of a lifetime.
According to NASA, one does not need a telescope to watch a total lunar eclipse. However, for photography you will need a good DSLR, lenses, etc to capture high-resolution images of the same. A smartphone can capture images, but it might not be so sharp, unless you add an extra clip-on lens. For the best view, getting out of the city might help. But again the ongoing monsoons means there’s a chance you might not catch a glimpse of the red coloured Moon tonight.