2009 ends with partial blue moon eclipse

Surabhi Gupta New Delhi, Jan 1 (PTI) Revellers waiting to ring in the New Year witnessed a rare partial blue moon eclipse, an event which will not be seen until 2037. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only part of the moon passes through the umbra or darkest part of earth''s shadow, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) Director C B Devgun told PTI. Sky gazers were enthralled to see the earth''s shadow sweep past the moon, turning a yellow shining full moon into a dim red one.

As the earth came in between the sun and the moon, its shadow first began sweeping across the moon blocking out much of its bright light. As the shadow descended gently, the moon''s face turned red.

The maximum partial eclipse was at about 1 am when the shadow started disappearing slowly to make the moon partially visible. "The sky turned red when eclipse was at its maximum, the disc of the moon also turned reddish," Devgun said.

The awesome spectacle of the moon being eclipsed was visible all over the country, including the national capital. The last blue moon partial eclipse occurred in December 1982 and the next will occur in January 2037.

It was a rare event, Prof R C Kapoor of Indian Institute of Astro Physics said. When a second full moon in a calendar month appears in the night sky, the occurrence is known as a blue moon.

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