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How To View the Longest Lunar Eclipse in 580 Years

Team StoryWeavers|November 19, 2021, 14:58 IST|

On November 19, we are all set to witness the last lunar eclipse of 2021. Contrary to the last eclipse, some parts of India in the North East are expected to witness the eclipse. And for those who can witness the eclipse, you will be a part of something historic!

This partial lunar eclipse is the longest in the 21st century. The eclipse will last six hours! That’s a long time! 

In fact, the last time a partial lunar eclipse lasted this long was in February 1440 – 580 years ago. 

The eclipse can be viewed with the help of eyegear and also the naked eye in North America, South America, Europe and parts of Asia. Stargazers and space enthusiasts can unite to witness this rare celestial event for hours. 

However, if you are in India, you need to be ready at 2.34 pm. The country will be able to witness this eclipse only for a short span of time. Now that you know about how rare this partial lunar eclipse is, let’s explore more. 

Facts about the historic eclipse

On November 19, 2021, the last of the four eclipses will happen after 11 am IST. It’s an almost total lunar eclipse where 97% of the moon will be covered. In India, some parts of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and neighbouring regions can see the eclipse.

This partial lunar eclipse will occur between 11.32 am (Indian time) and 5.32 pm, making it one of the longest eclipses ever and for hundreds of years to come. 

Why is the eclipse so long?

Facts and figures apart, we also need to understand why this eclipse is so long. Before we get into a detailed explanation of the same, let’s understand how a lunar eclipse is formed. 

A typical lunar eclipse

When the Earth comes in between the moon and the sun, the moon is eclipsed by the earth. When they are not perfectly aligned, the earth obstructs some of the sunlight from reaching the moon. 

The reason this phenomenon will be unusually long this time is that it comes 41 hours after the Moon reaches apogee, its farthest point from Earth. The farther away the moon is, the longer it takes to travel along, resulting in more time to move out of the Earth’s shadow. 

The next time we might witness such an eclipse will be in the year 2669! So, do try to catch it this time!. 

What’s the significance of this eclipse?

The eclipse this year is not only the longest, but it also holds cultural significance across geographies.

You may have learnt in your science lessons that lunar eclipses occur on a full moon day. The upcoming eclipse, happening on a full moon day, also ushers in winters and festivals all over the world. 

In some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, the full moon on November 19 marks the time of the first snowfall. Hence, the eclipse this year is also called the ‘Frost Moon.’ 

The frost moon

There’s another unusual name for this full moon that is commonly used. Preparing for the cold weather, beavers start building their dams at around this time in the prairies of North America. Hence the moon is called the Beaver Moon. 

Several festivals are also celebrated on the day in several countries in Asia. Loi Krathong festival in Thailand and Tazaungdaing Festival in Myanmar and Kartik Purnima or Karthika Deepam festival in India are the most common. 

Are you ready for the eclipse?Those who watch it live  or catch the video on the internet, do share your experience with us in the comments.


About the Author

Aparna is a mom, singer and dreamer. At BYJU'S, she writes stories about learning for children. She believes in the power of music, especially ghazal, the magic of the universe and happy learners. When not writing or singing, you will find her intensely engaged in conversations about life and the power of words.

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