LOVELY SIGHT: National Planetarium to facilitate public to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon
KUALA LUMPUR: COME Monday, Malaysians will be able to see the wonderful and relatively rare spectacle of a partial lunar eclipse as a portion of the moon enters the earth's shadow.
National Planetarium research officer Lau Chan Chan said the partial eclipse this time would occur from 4.48pm to 9.18pm.
"No matter where in Malaysia, the eclipse will be visible after sunset and the public are advised to look in the southeast direction.
"The National Planetarium is organising a programme on the day when people can view the eclipse using a telescope. At the same time, they can have a look at Saturn and Mars."
Lau said the next partial lunar eclipse was scheduled to occur on April 26 next year.
With its beauty, the partial lunar eclipse has inspired various traditions in religion and culture that are still in practice today.
Islamic Development Department vice-director (planning and research) Mohd Zakua Rodzhali said Muslims performed a prayer during the eclipse.
"After the eclipse is visible, Muslims will pray two rakaah as a sign of gratitude to God for nature's miracles.
"The tradition started during Prophet Muhammad's time, after the death of his beloved son Ibrahim on Jan 26.
"The devotees confused the lunar eclipse (that occurred then) as a sign of Ibrahim's death. So the Prophet explained to his followers that the eclipse was a natural phenomenon and should not be interpreted wrongly."
Centuries ago, people in China believed lunar eclipses were caused by dragons trying to consume the moon.
The people would make loud sounds and set firecrackers off to scare the dragons to prevent them from harming a goddess residing on the moon.
Cedric Tan, a devout Buddhist and singer in a religious group called Messengers of Dharma, said the old beliefs were no longer relevant in modern times.
"With advancement in the sciences to explain Nature, people do not rely on myths for information any more.
"This is the time when Buddhists will go to temples and pray. Some even go vegetarian for the day.
"There are various ways of showing devotion on the occasion such as sleeping on low ground, not wearing perfume, wearing simple clothes and fasting."
In Hinduism, the partial lunar eclipse is known as Pakshik Chandra Grahan. Compared with a full lunar eclipse, a partial one is not considered auspicious.