Mon, February 09, 2009
Lifestyle > Culture > 2009 Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival to see biggest festive moon in 52 years

2009-02-09 08:16:36 GMT2009-02-09 16:16:36 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's traditional Lantern Festival will witness the biggest and roundest moon for the past 52 festivals Monday night.

However it will appear darker for a few hours because of a penumbral lunar eclipse.

The Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, is an occasion for family reunion. People enjoy the beautiful lanterns on display in parks or markets, and eat Yuanxiao, small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour and sweet fillings. The moon is round on the 15th day of every lunar month. It marks the formal end of Spring Festival festivities.

Experts at the Beijing Planetarium said that the distance between the moon and the earth is estimated to be 365,000 kilometres, or 19,000 shorter than the average distance. So it will appear bigger tonight.

"Almost all the lightened surface of the moon can be seen by us on this day," Li Xin, a staffer of Beijing Planetarium, told Xinhua, "so today's moon will also be very round."

A penumbral eclipse, in which the earth gets between the sun and the moon and shades some of the sunlight, only happens one or two times a year. It will begin at 20:37 tonight, and the moon becomes darker until its peak at 22:38.

"This roundest and biggest moon can be viewed all over the country with the naked eye directly, today," said Li.

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