Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunar eclipse on 15 June 2011,the darkest night in 100 years

Year's First Total Eclipse Of Moon Will Be Unusually Long, Not Visible In North America

A series of photos showing a lunar eclipse on March 4, 2007. The first total lunar eclipse of 2011 will be an unusually long one, though not visible to North America.

LOS ANGELES -- The year's first total eclipse of the moon will last an unusually long time, a rare celestial treat for a wide swath of the globe.

Except if you're in the United States and Canada. North America will be left out of Wednesday's lunar spectacle, which will be visible from start to finish from eastern Africa, central Asia, the Middle East and western Australia – weather permitting.

The period when Earth's shadow completely blocks the moon – known as totality – will last a whopping 1 hour and 40 minutes. The last time the moon was covered for this long was in July 2000, when it lasted 7 minutes longer than that.

The full moon normally glows from reflected sunlight. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon glides through the long shadow cast by the Earth and is blocked from the sunlight that illuminates it.

As the moon plunges deeper into the Earth's shadow, the disk will appear to gradually change color, turning from silver to orange or red. This is because some indirect sunlight still reaches the moon after passing through the Earth's atmosphere, which scatters blue light. Only red light strikes the moon, giving it an eerie crimson hue.

It's difficult to predict the exact shade the moon will take, which will depend on how much dust and clouds are in the atmosphere during the eclipse.

Since the moon will pass close to the center of the Earth's shadow, the total eclipse phase will be longer than usual, said NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The entire eclipse will last a little over 5 1/2 hours. Observers in Europe will miss the first part of the show because it will occur before the moon rises. Eastern Asia and eastern Australia won't catch the final stages, which will happen after the moon sets. Portions of South America will be able see the moon entirely shrouded.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye.

On the night of 15th June 2011 more than half the world will have opportunity to watch one of the darkest Lunar eclipses.

This will be the darkest lunar eclipse in almost 100 years as the centres of the sun, the earth and the moon would nearly be on one straight line. The earlier darkest lunar eclipse was observed on August 6, 1971 and the next one would be 47 years from now on, on June 6, 2058.

People leaving in eastern Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and western Australia will have opportunity to observe the entire eclipse, from beginning to end. At mid- eclipse the Moon will be over head at Mauritius.

Total Lunar Eclipse (Chandra Grahan), on June 15, 2011 will be visible in India, Dubai, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and western parts of Australia. The Chandra Graham will be taking place in India between 11:53 pm on June 15 to 03:32 am early morning on June 16, 2011. Total Lunar Eclipse – the moon is fully covered – is from 00:52 hrs to 02:33 hrs. The eclipse’s total phase lasts for 100 minutes.

A lunar eclipse takes place when the moon enters the shadow of the earth. On 15th June night, the earth is directly between the moon and the sun, blocking the sunlight reaching the moon. On this night the moon and the sun are in opposite side of the earth. One can experience a solar eclipse on the surface of the moon.

Other than the near perfect alignment of these solar system bodies, atmosphere plays its role too to make the eclipsed Moon really very dark. This eclipse of June 15th is likely to be one of the darkest one due to the ashes thrown in the Earth’s atmosphere by the recent eruption of Iceland’s most active volcano, Grimsvotn.

The moon will in the penumbral shadow of the earth at about 10:53 pm. Nothing much will be noticeable to the untrained eyes for next 30 to 40 minutes. After that one might notice gradual change in the brightness on the lunar disk. By 11:53 the moon will be in the umbra of the earth’s shadow. The dark shadow will progress on the lunar disk. This will be quite noticeable to the naked eyes.

The total lunar eclipse to be visible on June 15, 2011 will be the first of two lunar eclipses in 2011 and the third of all eclipses that occur throughout the year.

Gujarat Science City has organized a series of educational activities and outreach programmes for school and college students as well as the common public on this celestial event. A day-long workshop on understanding eclipse, live phone in programme on Gyan Vani, interactive sessions with eminent experts along with a lots of eclipse awareness games, puzzles have been organized on 15th June 2011.

In the evening, elaborate arrangement is being made at the amphitheater in the Science City for safe viewing of the total lunar eclipse through telescopes and naked eye along with interaction with scientists. There will be special shows to screen the IMAX 3D movie “Walking on the Moon”.

Interested students, teachers and sky gazers are invited to participate in the workshop and to observe the total lunar eclipse at Science City.

For everybody, the eclipse is a unique opportunity to admire and celebrate the beauty and inspiration of the celestial experience. The experience of such a moment triggers questions on the cosmos, our Earth in space, and our human condition – a shared unforgettable experience that crosses boundaries of language, race, religion and culture.

Let’s not miss this spectacular event of this year. Let us bring the thrill of watching this grand event of the people, at the same time, helping them to develop a scientific outlook.

Eclipse and Science

A total solar and lunar eclipse is probably the most spectacular astronomical event that most people will experience in their lives. There is a great deal of interest in watching eclipses, and thousands of astronomers (both amateur and professional) travel around the world to observe and photograph them. A total solar and lunar eclipse presents a fun, exciting and educational opportunity to teach young people about science.

1. An eclipse offers students a unique opportunity to see a natural phenomenon that illustrates the basic principles of mathematics and science that are taught through elementary and secondary school. Indeed, many scientists (including astronomers!) have been inspired to study science as a result of seeing a total solar eclipse.

2. Teachers can use eclipses to show how the laws of motion and the mathematics of orbital motion can predict the occurrence of eclipses.

3. The use of pinhole cameras and telescopes or binoculars to observe an eclipse leads to an understanding of the optics of these devices.

4. The rise and fall of environmental light levels during an eclipse illustrate the principles of radiometry and photometry, while biology classes can observe the associated behavior of plants and animals.

5. It is also an opportunity for school children to contribute actively to scientific research – observations of contact timings at different locations along the eclipse path are useful in refining our knowledge of the orbital motions of the Moon and earth, and sketches and photographs of the solar corona can be used to build a three-dimensional picture of the Sun’s extended atmosphere during the eclipse.

6. It is also an opportunity for children of school age to contribute actively to scientific research – observations of contact timings at different locations along the eclipse path are useful in refining our knowledge of the orbital motions of the Moon and earth, and sketches and photographs of the solar corona can be used to build a three-dimensional picture of the Sun’s extended atmosphere during the eclipse.

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