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Sunday, December 19, 2010

North America to be Treated to Total Lunar Eclipse on Dec. 20-21, 2010

Total eclipseImage via Wikipedia
(Apologies: I mistakenly wrote Dec. 21-22. The correct date is above, early Tuesday morning on East Coast of the US, late Monday night on the West Coast.)

Observers in North America, Central America, and Hawaii will be treated to a total lunar eclipse on the night of the winter solstice, December 20 - December 21. Unfortunately, the eclipse will not be visible in Israel or the Middle East. Totality begins at 2:41AM EST and ends at 3:53AM EST on December 21, so observers on the West Coast will be able to see it at a much more reasonable hour. Partial phases of the eclipse begin about 1 hour before and after totality.

The last time a total eclipse of the moon occurred during the winter solstice was December 21, 1638AD, the year John Harvard died and left his library to the two year old university that would be named after him. So, if you are into rare, coincidental astronomical events, you won't want to miss this one. The next one won't be until December 21, 2094, not so long to wait but an event you can't bet you'll see.

Here are the circumstances of the eclipse:

Source: Sky and Telescope Magazine

This should be a beautiful event, with the moon high overhead on a frosty winter night. The eclipse is entirely visible by the naked eye, so just go outside and enjoy, although any optical aid, such as binoculars, will enhance your enjoyment. Since it is cold in many places at this time, you may be able to view from indoors, if you have a window from which the moon is visible. The moon will be nearly overhead, so perhaps a skylight would work best.

Clear skies and fair viewing.

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1 comment:

  1. We are also counting down here in New York City -- though of course skies are too bright to see clearly, I think.... Thanks for all your posts!



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