The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will witness a rare lunar eclipse phenomenon tomorrow – Thursday, April 25, 2013 (Islamic calendar- 15 Jumada Al Akhir), Al Arabiya reported. The full moon will pass directly behind the earth into its shadow. This only occurs when the sun, earth and moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the earth in the middle.
The earth creates a cone shaped shadow behind it blocking the sunlight and it divides the shadow into two distinctive parts: the “umbra” (the part of the shadow that causes a total block of the moon) and the “penumbra” (the outer portion of the shadow that causes a partial block).
Researcher astronomer, Mulhem Mohammed Hindi, also a member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Administration explained that the degree of the eclipse shadow varies according to the alignment and the size of the moon. Therefore it could be either a “complete” eclipse where a full moon completely disappears in the umbra part of the shadow or a “partial” eclipse where only a portion of the moon disappears in the penumbra of the shadow. It could also be a “fake eclipse” if the moon passes in the semi shade zone.
He also pointed out that the eclipse tomorrow is classified as one of the very rarest kind because the moon will enter no more than 1% of the earth’s real shadow (umbra) which is a very small percentage hardly seen by the naked eye. The phenomenon will last 27 minutes only, while the shortest lunar eclipse observed was in 2009 with a 6.5% blockage of the moon and lasted for a whole hour.
The lunar eclipse is only seen in 4 continents: Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa. A rare coupling of the Moon with the planet Saturn associates with the eclipse, as Saturn will be close to the moon and will appear as a yellowish glossy star.