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BLOOD SUPERMOON PENUMBRAL LUNAR ECLIPSE ON MAY 26 – Rare Celestial Feast for Skygazers

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In Mysuru, the best viewing location is from Chamundi Hills. The beginning and middle phases will not be discernable but the ending phase of the Penumbral Eclipse will be visible. The eclipse shall be perceptible from Mysuru from 6.45 pm to 7.19 pm, for about 34 minutes

Rtn PHF Dr. S A MOHAN KRISHNA

Mysuru: CoViD, Black Fungus everywhere… People have forgotten everything, instead become restless with maximum fear in them. But on May 26, people can forget everything and can witness a spectacular blood flower supermoon penumbra/partial lunar eclipse after 6.40 pm.

The most effective, amazing, gorgeous, memorable and evident astronomical
event in the sky is an ‘Eclipse’. None can forget the mesmerizing Supermoon, Bloodmoon Total Lunar Eclipse that occurred on January 31, 2018! This astronomical occurrence has been memorable and millions witnessed this spectacular spectacle.

In the same way, July 27 – 28, 2019 Indians were really privileged to witness a regular longest duration ‘Total Lunar Eclipse’ of this century. But this year, Mysureans shall be happy to witness a rare celestial feast, Blood Flower Supermoon Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on May 26, since it is visible from most of the parts of India for a short span. This eclipse will be visible in the region covering South America, North America, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, Pacific and Indian oceans.

Partial or Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is not a mesmerizing astronomical event, since it occurs every year. But on the same day, one can see to blood supermoon, the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. On that day, the distance between Moon and Earth will be 3,57,365 kilometres. On May 26, 2021, the full moon will sweep through the Earth’s dark umbral shadow, creating a total eclipse of the moon. This May full moon is 2021’s closest (and therefore biggest and brightest) full moon of the year: a supermoon. This particular eclipse is special because the totality, or total phase, is so short-lived, lasting less than 15 minutes. The full moons of July, August, September and October 2021 will all travel south of the Earth’s shadow. Finally, the November 2021 full
moon will meet up with the Earth’s dark shadow on November 19, 2021. It won’t be a perfect alignment, however, and the November full moon will just miss being totally eclipsed.

Lunar eclipses, which may be total or partial, can occur only at full moon when
Sun, Earth and Moon are in line. As the Sun is an extended light source, Earth’s shadow
has two components – a dark, central UMBRA, where the Sun is completely obscured, and a lighter outer PENUMBRA, within which the obscuration is partial. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes first through the penumbra, taking about an hour, moving eastward by its own diameter in this time, to reach the western edge of the umbra. A Lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the umbral region of the Earth’s shadow and becomes imperceptible. Lunar eclipse is discernible from a large part of the Earth.

On May 26, in Mysuru, the beginning and middle phases will not be discernable but the ending phase of the Penumbral Eclipse will be visible. The eclipse shall be perceptible from Mysuru from 6.45 pm to 7.19 pm, for about 34 minutes.

No two lunar eclipses are ever quite the same, and although some dismiss them
as of less interest than solar eclipses – particularly total solar eclipses, where the events centered on totality occur rapidly, in contrast with more stately progress of a lunar eclipse – they are fascinating to observe. Lunar eclipses also have the advantage of being visible from the entire hemisphere of the Earth where the Moon is above the horizon, rather than being most impressive along a narrow track. The main difference from one event to another is the degree to which the totally eclipsed Moon is darkened and how colourful is might be. The level of darkened is often described in terms of the DANJON SCALE.

The total duration of the Total Lunar eclipse visible from other parts of the globe
on May 26 is 5 hours 14 minutes, but in Mysuru it will be a penumbral lunar eclipse. The magnitude of the partial eclipse of the moon is 0.444. There is absolutely no harm in witnessing this gorgeous astronomical spectacle and could be clearly witnessed by using a reflecting telescope or astral binoculars. Following first contact, the Moon’s more easterly limb will show a growing dark “nick” as it begins to enter the umbra more deeply. At a total lunar eclipse, Moon takes about an hour to become completely immersed in the umbra. To begin with, there is little to see beyond a darkening of part of the Moon, but as the eclipsed portion increases, some colour may become evident. The curved edge of the umbra may show a slight blue fringe. Refraction of sunlight – particularly at the red end of the spectrum – through Earth’s atmosphere means that the umbra is not completely dark. Consequently, the Moon does not usually disappear from view; instead, it is dimmed and often takes on a reddish colour, which becomes increasingly apparent as the umbral phase advances.

The diameter of Earth’s umbra is thought by some to change in response to solar activity, perhaps decreasing at solar maximum as the upper atmosphere becomes slightly more extended in response to increased ultraviolet and X-ray emissions. Many observers try to measure the precise extent of the umbra during eclipses by timing the passage of its edge across identifiable lunar features such as craters. Unless a lunar eclipse is very dark, it is usually quite easy to make out the dark Maria, contrasting with the brighter, cratered highlands, with the naked eye.

In Mysuru, the best viewing location is from Chamundi Hills. After this year, the next time that a Blue Moon passes through Earth’s umbra will be on Dec. 31, 2028, and,
after that, on Jan. 31, 2037. Both of these eclipses will be total. Large telescopes or high magnifications are of little value for observing a lunar eclipse. It is always recommended using binoculars or a small low-power telescope, since they both allow the entire Moon to be viewed during the event. Enjoy the rare celestial feast.

(The writer is amateur astronomer)

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