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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Two Celestial Treats For Our Eyes - The Blue Moon and The Solar Eclipse

There were two celestial treats to watch and observe that were an absolute rare phenomenon to occur so close together in a span of two weeks, the New Blue Moon on 31st December and the Annular Solar Eclipse on 15th January.

The New Blue Moon: Seen on 31st December 2009.

Apparently a Blue Moon is a rare phenomenon that occurs once in a while and therefore the saying "once in a blue moon" originated. This blue moon is an extra "full moon" that occurs only in the years that have thirteen full moons, and the year 2009, happened to be that fateful year to give us this celestial treat to see on the New Year's eve.

What made this phenomenon even more rare and extra special a treat was the fact that it also had a partial eclipse on that night. See this picture:

This was the 13th Full Moon of 2009.
It was a Blue Full Moon the same night that it turned a new decade.
The next Blue Moon NYE will occur after a span of 19 years on December 31, 2028. 

I was fortunate to witness the full glory of this spectacular phenomenon on the eve of New years and tried to capture the beauty and radiance of the moon that night with my Nokia camera. (Picture above). However, I think the picture has not done full justice to the beauty and radiance that I saw on that night as the sky was lit up brightly, like never before seen, and the moon looked so bright and a little blue. It was a real sight to see and I am glad that I did not miss this event.

The Annular Solar Eclipse: 15th January 2010.

This was the second celestial treat that we got to witness in a span of just two weeks, the solar eclipse of January 15, 2010. This was an annular eclipse, a very rare phenomenon, that normally occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the sun to look like an annulus (ring), blocking most of the Sun's light. What made it even more delightful and spectacular was the fact that it was also one of the longest eclipse of the millennium.

 In most parts of the world the solar eclipse was visible only as a partial eclipse, but in parts of south India it was seen as a total eclipse. Many people gathered to witness this phenomenon as it occurred in the afternoon hours and specially all the children could also get to see this rare delight.

On Friday, 2010 January 15th, the annular eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a 300-km-wide track that traversed half of Earth, and ended in China. The Total Solar eclipse occurred over the Indian Ocean. This eclipse was witnessed between 11:00 am onwards to 3:00 pm in all parts of India.

I was fortunate enough to have this whole event take place right in front of my balcony and could witness the various stages of the eclipse as it happened, in Mumbai. However, unfortunately, it was only a partial eclipse here and we could not witness the real glory of the annular ring that was seen from other parts of south India.

All the news channels showed this phenomenon live on the television and that is where I too saw the total eclipse. The picture above is as taken in one of the earlier stages of the eclipse as it began.

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