Moon-gazers saw a super moon, when it looks bigger and brighter than ever because it is closer to the earth, a blue moon, which is the second full moon in a calendar month, and a blood moon, a reference to the red colour of an eclipse. The phenomenon was visible across several parts of the world.
The moon put on a rare cosmic show Wednesday: a red blue moon, super big and super bright.
The celestial treat became visible in India a little later than expected but when it did, millions of stargazers across the country gathered to witness the rare occurrence.
The moon outdid itself in donning three roles. Moon-gazers saw a super moon, when it looks bigger and brighter than ever because it is closer to the earth, a blue moon, which is the second full moon in a calendar month, and a blood moon, a reference to the red colour of an eclipse. The sighting of a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse last occurred in India in 1982.
Many organisations across the country stepped in to enhance the show which was also visible to the naked eye.
SPACE India, a start-up focused on astronomy education and astro-tourism services, organised several events at various locations across the country to observe the phenomenon from 6 p.m.-9.30 p.m.
SPACE India used the Dobsonian telescope at India Gate which gave a very clear and crisp view of the supermoon.
The instrument allowed skywatchers to view the moon 20 times bigger than it appears to the naked eye.
“Apart from Delhi, Space India organised the event in five other cities — Chennai, Bengaluru, Surat, Dehradun and Meerut – and also at DAV school in Gurgaon. Over 500 people gathered at India Gate to watch this phenomenon,” Dr. Mila Mitra, Scientific Officer, Head, Research and Publications, told IANS.
Moon-gazers gathered in planetariums in Delhi, Pune, Kolkata and elsewhere for a guided observation of the rare treat.
At India Gate area, scores of students came together to have a look at the moon, which was initially covered by clouds. But the clouds lifted, and soon the red moon was visible to the naked eye.
In Mumbai, the Nehru Planetarium was visited by 2,500-3,000 people eager to know more about the celestial phenomena.
“I am glad about the number of people who visited us considering the superstitions behind eclipses,” said Arvind Paranjpye, director of the Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai. Among some communities, an eclipse is considered inauspicious.
However as the total eclipse started at 6.21 pm, it could be seen by everybody from rooftops, street corners, highrise buildings and open field, said director (Research & Academics) M P Birla Planetarium, Debiprasad Duari.
The total eclipse ended at 7:37 PM. and slowly the full disc of the moon became brighter.
In Bengaluru, thousands of stargazers gathered at the Nehru Planetarium in the city and other open spaces to catch a glimpse of the celestial spectacle.
“This lunar eclipse is special because a Supermoon (when Moon appears larger than usual when its closest to Earth), blue Moon (second full Moon of each month) and blood Moon (Moon appears red during eclipse) will all coincide at once,” its director Pramod G Galgali said.
The planetarium in the city centre had hundreds of children, students and adults queuing up to view the once in a blue moon event clearly through telescopes and binoculars.
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bengaluru also set up few telescopes in open spaces for public viewing of the eclipse.
Several Hindu temples were shut across the state on Wednesday, with many devout Hindus staying away from eating till the end of lunar eclipse, as it is feared to be inauspicious.
Renowned Hindu worship places in Karnataka like Manjunatheshwara Temple in Dharmasthala, 300 km from Bengaluru and Krishna Mutt in Udupi, about 400 km from Bengaluru, were shut till the end of the eclipse at about 9.30 p.m.