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Monday, February 9, 2009


Sky-gazers looked for vantage positions on Monday night to watch this year's first penumbral lunar eclipse, visible from almost the whole of Asia and some other continents.

The moon crosses the penumbra of the earth from 6.08 p.m. to 10.07 p.m. (IST) on Monday night, though the sight will not be as spectacular as in the case of total or partial lunar eclipse, M P Birla Planetarium Director D P Duari told PTI here.

"The penumbra of the earth is a region of space which is partly illuminated by the sun. So when the moon crosses through that particular illuminated region, it does not become dark, but there is a faint decrease in its brightness," he explained.

This particular penumbral lunar eclipse is of a high magnitude and at the point of greatest eclipse at 8.08 p.m. (IST), about 90 per cent of the moon will be inside penumbra of the earth.

"There is a faint darkness at the northern edge of the moon," the Planetarium director said. There will be two more penumbral lunar eclipses this year -- one on July 7 and another on August 6.

Weather permitting, we’ll be treated to an eclipse of the moon early Monday.

It’s the first of four this year and should be the best.

A spokesman for the Mountains Skies Astronomical Society at Lake Arrowhead says it comes during the pre-dawn hours.

“The February full moon was known as the ‘snow moon’ by the eastern Indian tribes.”

If you miss it, other lunar eclipses will follow in July, August and December.