This year's first lunar eclipse will take place on Saturday evening, when more than 50 per cent of the full moon's disc will be swallowed by the earth's shadow. However, sky watchers in India may be disappointed, as it will be nearly over by the time the moon rises in the horizon.

The eclipse would be partial and observed in eastern Asia, Australia, Antarctica, parts of the Americas and the Indian and the Pacific Ocean, D.P. Duari, director (research and academics), Birla Planetarium, said here on Thursday.

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the earth's shadow falls on the moon, but the sun, the earth and the moon are not aligned in a straight line.

On June 26, the earth's umbral shadow (the region where the shadow of the earth is maximum) will fall on the moon between 3.46 p.m. and 6.29 p.m. However, the moon would rise, for example, in Kolkata at 6.25 p.m. and thus it would not be possible to witness the eclipse, Dr. Duari said.

“The ending phase of the eclipse will be visible from the north-eastern part, including Assam, at the time of moon rise in the eastern horizon. So, apart from the north-eastern States, the rest of the country will miss experiencing this partial lunar eclipse,” he said.

The penumbral eclipse — the period when the moon passes through the partly lighted, partly shadowed region created by the earth — will last longer.

“But, for most of us it is very difficult to identify and observe a penumbral eclipse when moon will just be a shade darker than its original brightness.” Chances are that Indians will miss out on the next lunar eclipse, a total one, on December 21. “It will happen during daytime in India. Thus the moon will not be there in the sky,” Dr. Duari added.

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