CHENNAI: Skywatchers, times are looking up for you. If you had missed the solar eclipse earlier this month, don’t be disappointed. A penumbral lunar eclipse, a celestial event that occurs when the moon becomes immersed in the shadow (penumbral cone) of the Earth, is on March 23.
During a lunar eclipse, the Earth’s shadow falls on the moon. If the moon passes through the dark central shadow of Earth — the umbra — a partial or total lunar eclipse takes place. If the moon only passes through the outer part of the shadow (the penumbra), a subtle penumbral eclipse occurs. In Chennai, only the end of the penumbral eclipse can be seen on March 23 from 1.54pm to 7.24pm.
The March 23 penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible in most parts of Asia, Australia, North America and South America. Lunar eclipses look approximately the same all over the world and happen at the same time. The moon is below the horizon in Chennai for some time, so that part of the eclipse is not visible.
The total duration of the eclipse is four hours, 15 minutes and the next eclipse is on September 16-17 this year. Most calendar years have four eclipses, the minimum number that take place in a year. Of these, two are solar eclipses.