This blog writing time - December 9, 2011; 8.00 am,
Tomorrow on December 10, is the Full Moon eclipse. This is the year's first total Lunar eclipse and surprisingly, it will last for unusually long time, a rare celestial treat - 1 hour 40 minutes. Last time the Moon was covered for so long in July 2000 - it was for 1 hour 47 minutes long.
Scientific Reason of the Lunar Eclipse
The full Moon normally glows from reflected sunlight. A total Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Moon glides through the long shadow cast by the Earth and is blocked from the sunlight that illuminates it.
As the Moon plunges deeper into the Earth's shadow, the disk will appear to gradually change color, turning from silver to orange or red. This is because some indirect sunlight still reaches the Moon after passing through the Earth's atmosphere, which scatters blue light. Only red light strikes the Moon, giving it an eerie crimson hue.
Hindu Mythological View - Story of Saagar Manthan
Long long time ago, once there was a Devaasur Sangraam (Dev and Asur War). Many Devtaa and Asur were killed in that war. Daity's Guru Shukra had the Sanjeevanee herb to bring Asur to life after they were dead, so they all came back to life, while Devtaa were not. Seeing this Dev Raaj Indra went to Brahmaa Jee, reported this event and asked the remedy. Brahmaa Jee went to Vishnu along with Devtaa. Vishnu said - "Presently, you extend friendship with Asur. Make them agree to churn the Ksheer Saagar (Milky Ocean). It will give us Amrit (nectar), somehow I will manage to to give you Amrit and then you will be immortal." And He explained them His plan. Devtaa got very happy to hear this. They went to Asur King Bali and extended friendship with him and made him ready for churning the Ocean.
They used Sumeru Mountain as the churning rod and Vaasuki Naag as the churning rope. When they wanted to carry Sumeru Mountain to the Ocean, they could not lift it as it was very heavy. Vishnu had to help them by carrying it on His Garud. So the Mountain was set and the rope was tied to churn it. Devtaa took the mouth end of Vaasuki Naag and Asur took the tail end. After a while Asur thought "when Devtaa are at Naag's mouth end, there must be some good thing in it", so they exchanged the ends with Devtaa.
They started churning the Ocean, but the Ocean's movements were so strong that the Mount Meru was unable to stay at one place, thus it was difficult to churn the Ocean. So Vishnu again had to come to help them. He assumed the form of a tortoise (Kashchap Incarnation) and Meru Mountain was kept on his back, but still the mountain kept shaking. Vishnu again rescued them and kept His one hand above the top of the Mountain to keep the Mountain at one place. Then only Devtaa and Asur were able to churn the Ocean.
Ocean Gives Amrit
Fourteen Ratn (gems) came out of this churning including - (1) Halaahal poison - Shiv Jee drank it; (2) Surabhi Cow - Rishi took it; (3) Uchchashraivaa Horse - Raajaa Bali took it; (4) Airaavat Elephant - Indra took it; (5) Kaustubh Mani (gem) - Vishnu took it; (6) Kalp Vriksh - was planted in Nandan Van of Indra; (7) Many Apsaraa - Indra took them; (8) Lakshmee - Vishnu took Her; (9) Vaarunee Devee (liquor) - Asur took her; (10) Dhanvantari Vaidya - with Aayur Ved in his one hand; and (11) Amrit in his another hand.
As soon as the Asur saw Amrit Kalash (pitcher of nectar), they snatched the Kalash from Dhanvatari's hands and ran away to drink it. Devtaa just stood watching them running away with the Amrit Kalash. Vishnu again rescued them. As Asur were running away with the Kalash, they saw a very beautiful woman coming towards them. She was Mohinee - Vishnu's 14th Incarnation. Mohinee said - "O Asur, What is in this pitcher? And where are you running away with it?" Asur said - "We have Amrit in it and we are going to drink it. We are running away from Devtaa so that they do not take it from us." Mohinee smiled and said - "There is no need to run away from here, I can do this in a better way. I will deceive them and I will give you all this Amrit." Asur got ready as they had got mesmerized by the beauty of Mohinee. They gave the Kalash to Her. In the meantime Devtaa also came there, so Mohinee asked all of them to sit in two separate rows - one for Asur and one for Devtaa. All sat down patiently.
Distribution of Amrit and Raahu
Now Mohinee started distributing Amrit. She was very clever. She gave Amrit to Devtaa and Suraa (liquor) to Asur. For some time it was all right, but then Raahu Asur noticed what was going on. He silently rose from his seat, changed his form to a Devtaa and sat in Devtaa's row between Soorya Dev (Sun) and Chandramaa (Moon). When Mohinee came to distribute Amrit to Devtaa, she gave some to Raahu also considering him Devtaa. As he gulped the Amrit, Soorya Dev and Chandramaa recognized his disguise and reported to Mohinee. Mohinee immediately took out Her Chakra and severed his head. But by then Raahu has already gulped the Amrit, so he did not die, his both parts remained alive. His head was known was Raahu and his trunk came to be known as Ketu. Later Brahmaa Jee bestowed both parts of Raahu the status of planet and that is how these two planets (Raahu and Ketu) have their own importance in Vaidik astrology.
Since then Raahu is very angry with Soorya and Chandramaa and whenever he gets chance he comes to eat them. Raahu eats Chandramaa on Poornimaa (on the Full Moon day) and Soorya on Amaavasyaa (New Moon day).
Since our Devtaa are in trouble at these times, it is advised that people should do Jaap, Mantra recitation, Daan (alms) etc during these times for their welfare. After the eclipse is complete, one should take bath and clean one's house with water.
http://shadowandsubstance.com/ - beautiful site to show eclipse time and regions, you will enjoy seeing it