Monday, December 20, 2010

Total lunar eclipse just before Christmas

The night 20-21 December 2010 is witnessing a total lunar eclipse in some parts of the world just before the Christmas. The moon will pass through the darkest part of the Earth's shadow, and for the first time in 372 years, the spectacle will take place during the winter solstice. It will be visible after midnight Eastern Standard Time on December 21 in North and South America. The beginning of the total eclipse can be seen from northern Europe just before sunrise. The moon will be located nearly overhead during the peak of the eclipse for North American observers.The end of the total eclipse will be visible rising at sunset for Japan and northeastern Asia. A partial eclipse will also be visible in the Philippines just after sunset.

However, unlike the total solar eclipse when the sun becomes a complete black disc, the moon doesn't become completely dark. Light from the sun filters and bends through the Earth's atmosphere and can shine on the moon. Since there are many bodies that refract the sun light, like the clouds and the dust, the moon glows a coppery-red during a lunar eclipse. How much the moon glows thus depends on the amount of clouds and dust in the atmosphere.

Earlier this year, right on the first day of the year 2010, we had a partial lunar eclipse, followed by partial solar eclipse on 15th January. And that time, in a post I wrote, “And having lunar eclipse right minutes after the New Year eve shudders me. May be it is a Divine warning or an indicator of something. I hope and pray it to be a positive indicator – an indicator of good days ahead, God willing for every one of us, who have seen some very bad days in 2009. We really need peace and love for we have had enough of bad days.” Well these two eclipses were an indicator of a natural calamity that was to occur some six months later when flash floods devastated Pakistan, affecting some 20 million people.

Now this lunar eclipse just before the year ends and days before Christmas once again makes me sit in fear as these natural obscures aren’t without any meaning. Rather these are indicators of something good or bad. I pray, like I did at the beginning of the year, for the wellbeing of everyone of us around the globe. May Allah be our protector. Ameen.

Related Reading: The Lunar Eclipse – And the year 2010 (JahoJalal)

PS: Fianlly the eclipse appeared starting at 7:41 GMT. Despite being in shadow, the moon did not become invisible as there was still residual light deflected by atmosphere. Most of the refracted light was in the red spectrum and thus made the moon turn reddish, coppery or orange, sometimes even brownish. Since it was a full moon, the sight of it being changing colours was awesome, dazzling and a memorable event for the skygazers. The Icelanders were lucky to see the full glowing moon in its varying shades during the eclipse.


That was an interesting post.
Contact: Sana Ahamed

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