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Longest Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century in Asia on 15th June 2011

A total lunar eclipse will be witnessed in Nepal and rest of the South Asia which will be the darkest and longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century with an expected duration of 100 minutes on Wednesday 15th June 2011 at midnight.

The eclipse will start from 12.07 am midnight and end at 3.40 am Thursday morning. As the moon slips into the earth’s umbra, it will slowly assume a coppery red colour, making it a not-to-be-missed spectacle. The previous darkest lunar eclipse took place four decades back, on 6th August 1971.

Graph showing position of eclipse - courtesy NASA

The eclipse is the first of the two total lunar eclipses that were forecast for 2011. It is a relatively rare central eclipse where the moon passes in front of the center of the Earth’s shadow, say astronomers.

Astrologers in Nepal have advised the public that to stay safe during the eclipse time and not to eat any thing at the time of the occurrence.

The eclipse can be viewed with naked eyes as well. According to the astronomers, such eclipse will occur only after 130 years.

Astrologers have advised the public not to eat anything at the time of the eclipse. The eclipse will be completely visible over Africa and Central Asia, rising over South America, West Africa and Europe, and setting over East Asia, and Australia.

“If the weather does not play foul, the celestial event starting 1:08 am NST will be visible from all parts of the country,” said Jayanta Acharya, the chairman of Astronepal.

There is another total lunar eclipse later in 2011 on December 10th.

During the eclipse, the moon will appear to be colourful. The moon may have reddish glow as a small fraction of sunlight gets filtered or refracted from the earth’s atmosphere and manages to reach the moon to illuminate it, say astronomers.

The last lunar eclipse to exceed the totality of 100 minutes was in July 2000, according to the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The longest total lunar eclipse of the century, which will be five to six minutes longer than this one, will befall on 26th July 2018.

Though Europe will miss the early stages of the eclipse because they occur before moonrise, totality will be seen throughout the continent except a few places. On the other hand, NASA said the eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and New Zealand will miss the last stages of eclipse because they occur after moonset. The eclipse will not be visible from North America either.

The most difficult part of lunar eclipse photography is to determine the correct exposure during the total eclipse, since the moon can vary widely in brightness, depending on how much clouds and dust in Earth’s atmosphere block the sunlight. Lunar eclipses can be captured easily with both film and digital cameras. Moon watchers can even connect SLR or DSLR directly to a telescope so that the Moon fills the entire frame.

About Anil Giri

Writes for The Kathmandu Post, the leading English newspaper in Nepal. Earlier, he was stationed in New Delhi as a Chief of Bureau for The Himalayan Times. He has worked for AHN, the US based new agency, The Guardian, Korea Times and others.

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