Longest eclipse of the century and Mars will be very close to earth on July 27th

On  27th Night the longest lunar Eclipse of the century will start from 10.44 pm when moon will enter the penumbra a faint shadow casted by earth, continue well past midnight until moon comes out of penumbra on the next day ie 28th July early morning at 04.58 am. But the partial eclipse which will be visible to naked eye will start at 11.54 pm when moon starts entering the Umbra : a dark shadow which will slowly move on the surface of moon till it is totally covered at 1.00 am marking the beginning of total lunar eclipse. Total eclipse will last for a very long period of 2 hours 43 minuets  between 01.01 am to 02.43 am on 28th July. The shadow will start receding from the surface of moon after 2.43am and moon will come out of Umbra completely at 3.50 am however eclipse shall end at 04.58 am by exit of moon from the penumbra. During the total eclipse the moon will appear dim and blood red in colour provided the sky is clear from clouds. A total lunar eclipse happens when the Moon travels through the Earth’s umbra and blocks all direct sunlight from illuminating the Moon’s surface. However, some sunlight still reaches the lunar surface indirectly, via the Earth’s atmosphere, where due to scattering of lights only red colur light reaches Moon turning it reddish, yellow, or orange. The partial and total eclipse shall be visible with naked eye in India as well as in all parts of Odisha provided sky remains clear.

Mars will be closest to earth : Mars will be very close to earth on 27th July 2018, when it comes  within 0.38496 astronomical units (One astronomical unit = Earth to sun distance which is around 15 crore KM.). The close encounter between the Earth and Mars on 27th July 2018 will be the closest until September 15, 2035.

We know that it takes Mars 687 Earth days to orbit the Sun in contrast to 365 days for Earth. Earth orbits closer to the sun than Mars does, and it move in orbit much faster than Mars. Earth overtakes Mars on average about every 780 Earth days. Hence both the planets comes closer every 780 Earth days. However, the cycle of Mars’ coming very close to Earth for very best appearances in our sky recurs every 15 to 17 years.  Mars will be at the closes distance from us  on July 27, when Earth passed between the sun and Mars. But  every two year Earth and Mars will come closer and they will come closer on October 6th 2020 and again after two years its closest approach will come on December 1, 2022.

In 2003, Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years! It won’t be that close again until the year 2287.When Mars and Earth are close to each other, Mars appears very bright in our sky. It also makes it easier to see with telescopes or the naked eye.  Mars will be very bright in 2018 from about July 7 to September 7. During that period Mars will shining more brilliantly than the planet Jupiter, and it’s not very often that Mars outshines the king planet! It will be visible whole night. Look for Mars in the eastern sky at nightfall – highest in the sky near midnight – and in the west as morning dawn starts to light the sky.   Keep your finger crossed to get a cloudless sky on 27th to have a glimpses of these rare celestial events.

(Published based on the information provided by Dr. Subhendu Pattnaik Deputy Director, Pathani Samanta Planetarium)

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