New Delhi/Tirupati: Sky gazers can look forward to a partial lunar eclipse that will take place on Thursday night. The first of the three lunar eclipses of the year will occur on Thursday night, giving astro enthusiasts all over the country an opportunity to witness the celestial event.

The eclipse will occur on the intervening night of April 25-26-beginning at 11:31 pm and ending at 3:43 am and would be visible from all parts of India.

Earth's shadow will cover one percent of the moon and will just touch the moon's limb. The moon will not disappear and turn red but will get slightly darker than usual.

“A tiny sliver of the Moon will be covered by the Earth's umbral shadow at maximum of the partial lunar eclipse,” N Sri Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society of India said.

“This is the second shortest partial eclipse of the Moon for the 21st century, lasting 27 minutes," said Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) president CB Devgun. SPACE is a private organisation working for popularising science among people.

Third shortest lunar eclipse of 21st century

According to NASA, the shortest partial lunar eclipse of the 21st century will be on February 13, 2082, lasting only 25.5 minutes.

NASA data also indicates that on September 28, 2034, the second shortest partial eclipse will last for 26.7 minutes.

The April 25-26, 2013, partial lunar eclipse will last for 27 minutes, making it the third shortest lunar eclipse of this century.

Best time to watch

The lunar eclipse in various phases will begin at 11:31 pm on Thursday night and end at 03:43 AM on April 26.

The noticeable Umbra phase will begin at 1:22 am and end at 1:53 am. Middle of eclipse, or when it is maximum, will occur at 1:37 am, Sri Raghunandan said.

This year, a total of five eclipses, three lunar and two annular, will occur.

Who will see it?

The eclipse will be visible in the region covering Australia, Asia (except NE part), Africa, Europe and Antarctica, Kumar said.

All the stages of the eclipse will be visible across the Indian Ocean, central Asia, Western Australia, Africa, and Europe.

"It will be visible from all parts of India. Unlike a total solar eclipse, which is visible only from a restricted zone of totality, this lunar eclipse will be seen from the entire night side of the earth," said Devgun.

Unlike an eclipse of the sun, star gazers do not need protective eye equipment to observe a lunar eclipse, he said.

Why is it unique?

Thursday’s partial lunar eclipse will be the first of the three eclipses of 2013. Later this year, two more partial lunar eclipses will be visible on May 25 and October 18.

It is also unique since it is the third shortest partial lunar eclipse of this century. The last time such a small partial lunar eclipse occurred was in 1958, and another one like it won't occur until 2034.

What is a partial lunar eclipse?

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the moon passes directly behind the earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur when the earth moves between the sun and moon but the three celestial bodies do not form a perfectly straight line.

No darshan at Tirumala for 17 hrs

Devotees will not be allowed entry into the shrine of Lord Venkateswara at nearby Tirumala
for about 17 hours from 5 PM on Thursday 10 am on Friday on account of lunar eclipse, temple sources said.

They said the shrine would be closed an hour before sunset on Thursday and opened early on Friday. The priests would then conduct 'cleansing' of the ancient shrine, followed by pre-dawn rituals, including recitation of Suprabatham and Archana rituals.

Pilgrims would be allowed to have a darshan of the Lord only after 10 am on Friday, they said.


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