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Positional Astronomy Centre, Kolkata
 
 
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Press Release

Century’s Longest Total Lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition

27- 28 July, 2018; Friday-Saturday

5-6 Sravana, 1940 Saka Era

(Visible In India)

 

A total lunar eclipse will occur on 27-28 July, 2018 with totality duration of 1 hour 43 minutes making it the longest total lunar eclipse of this century (2001 AD to 2100 AD). On 27 July, the red planet Mars will also be at opposition, meaning that the Sun and the planet Mars will lie opposite keeping the Earth in the middle. This will result in the Mars to come close to the Earth, causing it to appear brighter than the normal and it will be seen from evening to dawn during the end of July. The brighter Mars will remain very close to the eclipsed Moon in the sky on 27-28 July and can very easily be spotted with the naked eye. However, the red planet will reach closest to the Earth on 31 July, 2018 and will be seen brighter.

 

The partial eclipse of the Moon will begin at 23h 54m IST on 27 July. The Moon will be gradually covered by the Earth’s shadow and the totality phase will begin at 1h 00m IST on 28 July. The total eclipse will lasts upto 2h 43m IST on 28 July. Then the Moon will start to gradually come out of Earth’s shadow and partial eclipse will end at 3h 49m IST on 28 July.

 

In this particular eclipse, the Moon will pass through the central part of the Earth’s umbral shadow. Furthermore, the Moon will be at apogee, means at farthest from the Earth in its orbit on 27 July and will be moving at slower speed in its orbit. This slower moving full Moon will take longer time and greater distance of Earth’s umbral shadow cone to travel, making the longest duration of total eclipse of this century.

 

Such long duration of total lunar eclipses had earlier occurred on 16 July, 2000 for totality duration of 1 hour 46 minutes and another one on 15 June, 2011 for totality duration of 1 hour 40 minutes.

 

The eclipse will be visible in the region covering Australia, Asia, Russia except northern part, Africa, Europe, east of South America and Antarctica. The entire eclipse will also be visible from all parts of India.

 

The planet Mars comes at opposition at an average interval of 2 years and 2 months when the planet comes close to the Earth and becomes brighter. Mars opposition that had occurred in August 2003 brought the two planets closest distance in approximately 60,000 years. The closest approach of Mars on 31 July, 2018 will bring the two planets closest and the planet Mars to be seen brightest since 2003.