Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Come March and early morning risers will be able to catch a glimpse of two interesting eclipses.

According to Nehru Planetarium Director N. Rathnasree, as a result of all the excitement of Saturn opposition on February 10, two eclipses -- a total lunar eclipse on March 4 and a partial solar eclipse on March 19 -- will be seen from India.

The relevant timings for the lunar eclipse vary. While the penumbral part of the eclipse that will begin 1:46:27 a.m. will be difficult to see, the visible part of the eclipse begins at 3:00:01 a.m. The total phase of the eclipse will begin at 4:13:46 a.m., while the maximum part of the eclipse will occur at 4:50:52 a.m. While the total phase of the eclipse will end at 5:27:58 a.m., the partial phase will end at 6:41:42 a.m.

Revealing that the moon will set in the Capital at 6:51 a.m., Dr. Rathnasree says: "In Mumbai, the moon will set at 7:03 a.m., while in Kolkata the moon will set at 6:02 a.m. The eastern parts of the country will therefore see a partially eclipsed moon setting. As one moves westward, the partial phase of the eclipse will be over as the moon sets. All in all, there will be interesting views of the eclipse to be seen all over the country, with a fairly long duration of the totality of the eclipse of 1 hour 14 minutes."

Emphasising that eclipses or positions of planets do not affect our lives in any way, the Nehru Planetarium Director says there is no compelling evidence -- theoretical or observational -- to make us believe in astrological predictions that are made with every astronomical event.

On the partial solar eclipse of March 19 that will be seen from India and other parts of Asia, Dr. Rathnasree says Kolkata and other eastern parts of India will have the sunrise before the beginning of the partial phase of the eclipse, while regions westward will witness the sun already into the eclipse as it rises.

"The sun rises at 6:27 a.m., by which time 13.8 per cent of the disk of the sun will be covered in eclipse. The maximum of eclipse, when about 30 per cent of the disk of the sun will be covered by the moon, will occur at 6:53:48 a.m. and the eclipse will end at 7:40:53 a.m. This solar eclipse is a partial one as seen from any part of the world, where it is visible," adds Nehru Planetarium Director.

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