Total Lunar Eclipse Visible on the night of December 20-21

Lunar Eclipses are really amazing. The ¬†one coming up on the date of the 2010 winter solstice starts rather late at night (around 1:30 AM on Tuesday the 21st of December if you live in the US eastern time zone), and takes about an hour to reach totality at roughly 2:41 AM. The moon will start leaving the earth’s shadow at about 3:53 AM.

The moon will actually enter the earth’s penumbra (partial shadow) about an hour or so earlier, but it’s hard to see.

Sometimes, the eclipsed moon is a bright coppery color. Other times it appears blue-ish, or brown. Other times it’s nearly totally invisible. Its exact appearance to the naked eye depends on how deeply it enters the earth’s total shadow, as well as on what’s going on in the earth’s atmosphere. Will our various levels of air bend enough light to illuminate the moon, or will our atmosphere be too full of dust and dirt to do so? You can only find out if you get up to watch it yourself.

A couple of web pages to peruse for further information:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/17dec_solsticeeclipse/

and

http://shadowandsubstance.com/

and

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

Published in: on December 18, 2010 at 4:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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