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Grab your telescope and don’t miss out the rare chance to witness the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century in the early hours of July 28. Popularly known as the 'Blood Moon', the celestial treat would last for one hour and 43 minutes. A partial eclipse will precede and follow during the entire phase, each lasting one hour and six minutes. The Moon will take three hours and 55 minutes to cross the Earth's dark shadow during its sojourn.
It has been named 'Blood Moon' as the Moon gets a rusty orange or deep red colour, when the sunlight is scattered through the Earth's atmosphere.
The Executive Director of Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Center shared details about 'Blood Moon' and the special arrangements made the Centre (situated in Guindy) for people to witness the eclipse.
The Executive Director of TNSTC, Soundararajan Perumal said, "This time the moon will be at a distance of 4,60,000, so it's called micro moon as it will be slightly diminished. Since the moon crosses the earth's shadow, along the central region, it takes a longer time to cross it. The Super Moon Lunar eclipse, that happened on Jan 31, crossed the earth's shadow in 76 minutes. This time it will take 103 minutes to cross it."
"We have arranged five telescopes for people to watch it. People who wish to watch the eclipse at home can also watch it with naked eyes," he said.
The 'Blood Moon' is also known as Micro Moon eclipse, as the Moon will be at the farthest point from the Earth and may even look smaller. There will be another guest during the eclipse, as Mars will glow brightly, giving some unforgettable moments to skywatchers all over the world.
A student from Sastra college shared his excitement about getting to witness the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
"Tonight is a definite treat for any astronomer's eyes. Not only will we be able to observe the eclipse for the longest time in our probable lifetimes, at the end of it, we can just turn our telescopes around and watch Mars make its closest approach to us! I'd say this is a once in a blood moon event, but tonight is literally a blue moon, so it looks like nature has a sense of humour. We here at SASTRA are gearing up to get moonstruck," Rakesh Ramesh, a student from Sastra college said.
Interestingly, some people feel that the longest lunar eclipse has its own disadvantages. A sky enthusiast from Chennai, Eashwar Mathur said, "It's going to be fun since it's a blood moon and also the longest eclipse. But longest lunar eclipse is technically not great, because you can't see the eclipse moving. If it's short, you can see the shadow moving for at least every five minutes. Hope it doesn't rain tonight."
Time of the Lunar eclipse
The eclipse will be witnessed in Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia and the Indian Ocean region. In India, it will be seen in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, among other major cities from 11:44 pm IST, and the first phase is expected to set in from 11.54 pm IST and the entire eclipse from 1.00 am IST on July 28.
Superstitions related to eclipses
Superstitions have been long associated with the lunar eclipse since time immemorial and it was widely believed that our mind and body go through some changes during the eclipse. So, just listen to your grandma’s advice like taking bath or observing fast. Jokes apart, here's a list of rituals that have been long followed by people:
Avoid eating cooked food - The popular belief is that during the eclipse, the food that you consume would not get digested properly - leaving you feeling bloated and lethargic.
- People say one should avoid travelling during the eclipse. Pregnant women are asked to stay indoors too. Although there isn't any scientific reason behind these, it has been firmly engraved in our culture that the rays, which are more powerful during the eclipse, can affect the baby inside the womb.
Taking a bath or washing hair after the eclipse. People have long believed that all negative energy and harmful rays will be washed clean by the water. However, scientifically rays cannot be washed by water.
Avoid sexual intercourse during the eclipse. As the saying goes, sex during an eclipse could produce demon-children and might bring turmoil in life. This is not scientifically proven and was long considered a spiritual belief. But go ahead, unless you want to summon a demon child!
Other rituals include cleansing the home with incense sticks or crystals and meditating. Some people even consider this as a good opportunity to cleanse themselves from all sins and let go of their negative past during the eclipse as the Moon appears bright and fresh at the end of the eclipse.
As this will be the second and last lunar eclipse of this year, do not miss this opportunity to witness the spectacle. Don’t worry if you don’t have a telescope either, ‘cause you can witness the “bloody” wonder through naked eyes.