As the scientists across the country gear up to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century – which will coincide with the closest approach of Mars to our planet – experts say that cloudy skies are likely to mar the event for amateur space enthusiasts in India.
The Astronomical Society of India cautioned against creating a hype around this event in a statement.
“For serious astronomers, this event does offer an extraordinary opportunity to study Mars through their telescopes. However, the layperson who might expect to see dramatic details of the surface of Mars would probably be disappointed,” the statement said.
The celestial spectacle would last for 1 hour 43 minutes, making it the longest total lunar eclipse of this century (2001 AD to 2100 AD), the Ministry of Earth Science had said.
The partial eclipse of the Moon will begin at 11.54 p.m. today. The Moon will be gradually covered by the Earth’s shadow and the totality phase will begin at 1 a.m. IST on July 28 and the total eclipse will last upto 2.43 a.m.. Then the Moon will start to gradually come out of Earth’s shadow and partial eclipse will end at 3.49 a.m., the statement said.
During this eclipse, the Moon will pass through the central part of the Earth’s umbral shadow. Furthermore, the Moon will be at apogee — farthest from the Earth in its orbit, and will be moving at a slower speed in its orbit.