10 Jan 2020
2020's first Lunar eclipse tonight: Things you should know
We may not have been far into the new year, but a Lunar eclipse is upon us. Tonight, the moon will pass behind the Earth to enter its shadow, giving us the first penumbral Lunar eclipse of this year.
This celestial event comes close to heels of December's partial Solar eclipse when the moon hid the sun to form a "ring of fire".
What is a penumbral Lunar eclipse?
Lunar eclipses are categorized into total, partial, and penumbral. In the penumbral eclipse, the sun, moon, and Earth aren't aligned perfectly.
In this case, the Earth blocks a portion of Sun's light, disallowing it from reaching the Moon's surface. All or some part of the Moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, which is called the penumbra.
This year will witness four penumbral eclipses.
Eclipse will start at 10:37 pm, end at 2:42 am
The Lunar eclipse (also known as Chandra Grahan) will start in India at 10:37 pm, and its full visual impact will be seen around 12:41 am, when 90% of the moon will be covered by the Earth's partial shadow.
Residents of South India will be able to see the eclipse, but those living in the north may face troubles due to fog.
Eclipse can be viewed from other parts of globe too
Apart from India, the eclipse will be visible from Europe, Africa, and western Asia. Parts of North America like Newfoundland, northern Canada, and Greenland will be able to view it in the last stage.
Tonight's eclipse also coincides with this year's first full moon, which is known by different names. It's called Ice Moon in US, Yule in Europe, and Paush Purnima in India.
Unlike Solar eclipse, you can view Lunar ones without equipment
While Solar eclipses shouldn't be viewed with the naked eye and special glasses are recommended, it's fine to look at a Lunar eclipse without any equipment.
However, using a telescope will enhance the experience.
Indians usually choose to not eat or drink anything during the eclipse. Doing chores is also prohibited in some households. However, there is no science backing these superstitions.