Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse

Pictured above is the eclipse on 3 March 2007 as seen in Brighton.
Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Not since 1638, 372 years ago, has the Winter Solstice and the total lunar eclipse occurred simultaneously. A Solstice Lunar Eclipse is expected on December 20 to 21, 2010 as the sun, earth and moon are almost exactly aligned.

It is to begin on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth's shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the "bite" to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

From first to last bite, the eclipse favors observers in North America.
The entire event can be seen from all points on the continent.

Credit: F. Espenak, NASA/GSFC.

Ursids meteor shower is supposed to follow, the peak being December 22 to 23.

Currently our Pacific northwest skies hold a bit of promise as the rain subsided several hours ago, but I see clouds once again forming. Hopefully, some of you may get to see it. And just think: following this, the days begin to lengthen.