Washington DC (SPX) Dec 21, 2010
With frigid temperatures already blanketing much of the United States, the arrival of the winter solstice on December 21 may not be an occasion many people feel like celebrating. But a dazzling total lunar eclipse to start the day might just raise a few chilled spirits.
Early in the morning on December 21 a total lunar eclipse will be visible to sky watchers across North America (for observers in western states the eclipse actually begins late in the evening of December 20), Greenland and Iceland.
Viewers in Western Europe will be able to see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset, and in western Asia the later stages of the eclipse will be visible after moonrise.
From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. For observers on the east coast of the U.S. the eclipse lasts from 1:33am EST through 5:01 a.m. EST.
Viewers on the west coast will be able to tune in a bit earlier. For them the eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. PST on December 20 and lasts until 2:01am PST on Dec. 21. Totality, the time when Earth's shadow completely covers the moon, will last a lengthy 72 minutes.
While it is merely a coincidence that the eclipse falls on the same date as this year's winter solstice, for eclipse watchers this means that the moon will appear very high in the night sky, as the solstice marks the time when the Earth's axial tilt is farthest away from the sun.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun's rays and casting a shadow on the moon.
As the moon moves deeper and deeper into the Earth's shadow, the moon changes color before your very eyes, turning from gray to an orange or deep shade of red.
The moon takes on this new color because indirect sunlight is still able to pass through Earth's atmosphere and cast a glow on the moon. Our atmosphere filters out most of the blue colored light, leaving the red and orange hues that we see during a lunar eclipse. Extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, will cause the moon to appear a darker shade of red.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view without any special glasses or equipment. All you need is you own two eyes. So take this opportunity to stay up late and watch this stunning celestial phenomenon high in the night sky. It will be the last chance for sky watchers in the continental U.S. to see a total lunar eclipse until April 15, 2014.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
NASA Mr. Eclipse web site
NASA Watch the Skies web site
Solar and Lunar Eclipses at Skynightly
Solstice Lunar Eclipse
Huntsville AL (SPX) Dec 20, 2010
Everyone knows that "the moon on the breast of new-fallen snow gives the luster of mid-day to objects below." That is, except during a lunar eclipse. The luster will be a bit "off" on Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter, when the full Moon passes almost dead-center through Earth's shadow. For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America ... read more
ISRO Puts Off GSLV Launch|
Arianespace To Launch ESA's First Sentinel Satellite
ISRO Set To Launch Heaviest Satellite For Telecom And TV
The Flight Of The Dragon
Wind And Water Have Shaped Schiaparelli On Mars
The Three Ages Of Mars
Odyssey Orbiter Nears Martian Longevity Record
Drilling For The Future Of Science
NASA's LRO Creating Unprecedented Topographic Map Of Moon
Total Lunar Eclipse: 'Up All Night' With NASA
Robotic Excavations Could Help Get Helium 3 From Moon To Earth
A Softer Landing on the Moon
Mission To Pluto And Beyond Marks 10 Years Since Project Inception
Kuiper Belt Of Many Colors
Reaching The Mid-Mission Milestone On The Way To Pluto
New Horizons Student Dust Counter Instrument Breaks Distance Record
Citizen Scientists Join Search For Earth-Like Planets
Qatar-Led International Team Finds Its First Alien World
Planetary Family Portrait Reveals Another Exoplanet
New Pictures Show Fourth Planet In Giant Version Of Our Solar System
Orbital Test Fires First Stage Engine For Taurus II Rocket
Fuel error cost Russia three navigation satellites: official
Brazil launches rocket into suborbit
New JPL Workers Shed Training Wheels For Rocket Launch
China Builds Theme Park In Spaceport
Tiangong Space Station Plans Progessing
China-Made Satellite Keeps Remote Areas In Venezuela Connected
Optis Software To Optimize Chinese Satellite Design
Asteroid's Coat Of Many Colors
NASA Discovers Asteroid Delivered Assortment Of Meteorites
Research Points To Better Understanding Of Carbon In Comets
MegaPhase RF Cables Enable Conclusion Of Seven-Year Deep Space Program
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|