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Sun, moon and Mars: Three celestial treats lined up in July

After a partial solar eclipse on July 13, get ready to witness century’s longest total lunar eclipse on July 27-28 and then Mars coming closest to the Earth in 15 years on July 31

SNS | New Delhi |

July is bringing in celestial treats, starting with a partial solar eclipse on July 13, a longest total lunar eclipse on July 27-28 and Mars coming closest to the Earth in 15 years on July 31.

The solar eclipse on Friday will be a partial, visible only from the southern parts of Australia, New Zealand and open waters. The lunar eclipse will be a real treat as it is going to be the longest of this century.

According to Dr Debiprosad Duari, director, Research & Academic, MP Birla Institute of Fundamental Research, it will be the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. The moon will completely remain under the Earth’s shadow for one hour and 43 minutes.

The lunar eclipse can be observed in a large part of the globe, including in India, where it can be seen after 11.54 pm Indian Standard Time on July 27.

During the eclipse, the moon has to pass through the central part of the Earth’s shadow. But on July 27 late night, the Full Moon would be near its apogee, the farthest point from the Earth in its orbit around the Earth, and it would be the smallest full moon of the year.

The full moon would plunge deeply into the Earth’s shadow on the night of July 27-28 when the distance of the Moon from the Earth just before the eclipse would be around 406,223 kilometres, Duari said.

During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon’s disk can take on a dramatically colourful appearance from bright orange to blood red and more rarely dark brown to very dark gray, depending upon the part of the Earth’s shadow it would be passing through.

This was the reason a totally eclipsed Moon, at times, was called as Blood Moon.

On July 31, Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, will be 57.6 million kilometres from Earth, the closest it has been since 2003 when it came within 55.7 million kilometres, which was the nearest in almost 60,000 years.

“The Red Planet will be at its brightest since 2003, when Mars made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years since September, 24, 57617 BC,” Duari told PTI.

Mars will be visible in the night sky after sunset till sunrise from everywhere in India, provided the monsoon clouds don’t play spoilsport.