Friday, June 5, 2020

Strawberry moon and penumbral eclipse


Covid 19 or none – at home now @ 9 pm today 5th June 2020 – come out of your room, go to balcony,  open terrace or Streets–look at the sky – it is interesting !

The regular daily and monthly rhythms of Earth’s only natural satellite, the Moon, have guided timekeepers for thousands of years. Its influence on Earth’s cycles, notably tides, has been charted by many cultures in many ages. The Moon moderates Earth’s wobble on its axis, leading to a relatively stable climate over billions of years. From Earth, we always see the same face of the Moon because the Moon is spinning on its axis at the same speed that it is going around Earth. Do you know that the  light areas of the Moon are known as the highlands. The dark features, called maria (Latin for seas), are impact basins that were filled with lava between 4.2 and 1.2 billion years ago.

The garden strawberry (or simply strawberry) is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus Fragaria, collectively known as the strawberries, which are cultivated worldwide for their fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as jam, juice, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in products such as candy, soap, lip gloss, perfume, and many others. The strawberry is not, from a botanical point of view, a berry. Technically, it is an aggregate accessory fruit, meaning that the fleshy part is derived not from the plant's ovaries but from the receptacle that holds the ovaries.

Timely intervention by the Himachal Pradesh government in procuring strawberries from farmers in Sirmaur district has saved them from blues amid lockdown over COVID-19 outbreak. A state government official said strawberry is one of the crops that perish early but at the same time, it is a good cash crop for farmers. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the farmers in the district used to sell strawberry crop to tourists and other persons along national highways. Apart from this, they also used to earn good prices by selling it in the markets of other states.But due to lockdown, the farmers of the district could not venture out to sell the strawberry crop due to which they feared that their crop might perish in the fields itself,” he said. The official said in the lockdown period, concrete steps were taken by the Horticulture department, Sirmaur and the district administration as per the guidelines of the state government to save the strawberry crop from loss. “Taking timely decision, the state government decided to buy the crops of farmers through the Horticulture department and HP Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC). After the decision of the state government, the Horticulture department and HPMC opened a Procurement Center and purchased more than 120 quintals of strawberries directly from the farmers at the rate of Rs 38 per kilogram. Good governance !

In the evening of Friday, June 5—just after sunset—look towards the southeast to watch the full Moon rise gently above the horizon. There, it will appear large and golden hued. June’s full Moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, will reach peak illumination at 3:12 P.M.  There is always something interesting happening in the sky. The Moon cycles through its phases and occasionally passes near a bright planet. Sometimes the Moon eclipses the Sun. And sometimes the Moon itself is eclipsed as it passes through Earth's shadow.  The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published “Indian” names for the full Moons in the 1930’s. According to this Almanac, as the full Moon in June and the last full Moon of spring, the Algonquin tribes called this the Strawberry Moon. The name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in the north-eastern United States.

There are three types of lunar eclipses — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth's shadow completely covers the moon. This full Moon brings with it a penumbral eclipse, which occurs when the Moon crosses through the faint outer edge of Earth’s shadow (the penumbra), making part of the Moon appear ever-so-slightly darker than usual. Unlike a full lunar or solar eclipse, the visual effect of a penumbral eclipse is usually so minimal that it can be difficult to perceive at all!  The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. When the moon is in the penumbral shadow, the eclipse is not so noticeable. But when the moon is in the umbral shadow, the apparent change in color is far more dramatic.  This eclipse is not visible in India today !

Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events.

Sharp-eyed skywatchers in parts of the world may be able to catch a slight lunar eclipse today (June 5) as Earth embarks on a new "eclipse season," although North American viewers, Indians and some other countries  will be out of luck.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th June 2020 @ 2100 hrs.
1st photo of moon captured today – the photo above was taken on 3.6.2020

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