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India to witness century's darkest lunar eclipse today

Jun 15, 2011

India on Wednesday will witness
the darkest lunar eclipse of this century with
an expected duration of 100 minutes,
considered by astronomy institutions to be
one of the longest.
"This will be one of the longest-duration
eclipses, of 100 minutes, and also the
darkest as the moon will pass deeply
through the earth's umbral (dark) shadow,"
said Mila Mitra, scientific officer and event
head at NGO Science Popularisation
Association of Communicators and
Educators (SPACE).
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.
This will be the darkest lunar eclipse over
the Indian skies this century. The previous
darkest lunar eclipse took place four
decades back, on Aug 6, 1971.
The eclipse is the first of the two total lunar
eclipses that were forecast for 2011.
The second occurrence is slated December
10.
"It is a relatively rare central eclipse where
the moon passes in front of the center of
the Earth's shadow," added Mitra.
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.
Earlier this year, two solar eclipses have also
occurred but they were not visible in India.