Total lunar eclipse on December 10

Hyderabad: The last total lunar eclipse of the year will occur on December 10 and it will be visible in nearly half the world, including India, scientists have said.

However, this phenomenon may not be as dark as the mid -year eclipse of June 15. But a crisp winter night may provide stargazers an excellent opportunity for observing this event, which will last for nearly five hours, they said.

According to Arvind Paranjpye, In-Charge, Public Outreach Programme at Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, on December 10 the moon will be in the penumbral shadow of the earth at 5 pm IST.

After about 40 minutes or so there will be gradual changes in the brightness of the lunar disk. By 6.16 pm, the moon will be in the umbra of the earth`s shadow. The dark shadow of the earth covering the moon crater by crater will be visible through naked eyes, he said.

In about an hour and quarter, the moon will be totally inside the shadow of the earth. The maximum eclipse will occur at 8.27 pm, Paranjpye said.

A lunar eclipse happens when the earth comes between the moon and the sun, blocking sunrays, and the moon comes to pass the earth`s shadow.

The year 2011 so far had five eclipses – four solar eclipses and one lunar.