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Tonight’s The Night! December 20, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Nature.
Get Ready for the Solstice Lunar Eclipse! (NAS...

Image by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr

It’s the first time in hundreds of years (372 to be exact) that a full lunar eclipse coincides with the Winter Solstice!

It’s apt to make the longest night of the year the darkest night of the year as well.

The astronomical event starts at 10:30 pm PST on December 20th, with the best viewing at 3:17 am EST on December 21st.

More specifically, from NASA:

The eclipse begins 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.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

Ring out those Bells.

Ring out those Solstice Bells.

Related articles and posts: Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse Comes With a Rare Twist (space.com) * Ring Out Solstice Bells * The “Star” of Bethlehem * Joy To The World * Ho~Ho~Ho! Merry Christmas! * Santa Claus is Coming to Town


1. Joanne Fruin - December 20, 2010

How exciting…! Should I be concerned if I start feeling fangs and fur…? 😀

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Howl away, Joanne!


2. faeriemagic - December 20, 2010

Yay! Thats why the coyotes were out howlin’ last night .. gettin’ ready!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Thanks so much for catching my mistake.

I know that the Winter Solstice is the shortest day / longest night of the year and still I read over that mistake about 6 times.

We see what we want to see. 🙂

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 20, 2010

Thanks for the reminder! Undoubtedly, I will be awake (insomnia does come in handy occasionally! :-D), but even if I’m asleep, I’m setting the alarm!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

There’s Paula ~ always looking on the “bright” side of night. 🙂

Still, it’s hard to imagine that you would intentionally wake yourself up in the middle of the night with as little sleep as you’ve been “given.”

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that clouds do not block our view.

4. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 20, 2010

Well, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it’s clouds illusions I recall – I really don’t know clouds at all.” Oddly enough, I have just seen that verse as a great and optimistic view of life! I had always “read” it as rather melancholy!

Anyway: setting the alarm doesn’t mean my diffident alarm will necessarily work; I might forget to do it, or fall asleep before I do; and, 372 years was a LONG time ago. I’ve sort of forgotten what it looked like.

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

It is an optimistic view of life ~ it’s clouds illusions, I recall . . . they really weren’t “clouds” at all. 🙂

I wonder if seeing it again “for the first time” will bring repressed memories flooding back for me?

5. Debra - December 20, 2010

Yes, thank you for the reminder! I hope to be awake to see this event. 🙂 It will be cold for sure…already is. 🙂 Keep warm everyone and enjoy!

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

The moon already looks awesome in its full lunar splendor.

6. Ollin - December 20, 2010

Oh, I had no idea. Thanks for letting me know, how exciting. 🙂

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

The moon looks amazing ~ truly resplendent.

7. Carol Ann Hoel - December 20, 2010

I wish this would take place in the daylight so I could easily see it. Hm. Amazing. Blessings to you…

nrhatch - December 20, 2010

Folks on the West Coast of the States will be able to see it at a reasonable hour.

We are thinking about setting an alarm ~ it’s only once every 300+ years.

8. jannatwrites - December 21, 2010

Too bad the kids are in bed…they would love to see it (but I’m not waking them up – I’m not THAT crazy)

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

I watched it from 2 am until 3:17 am. Awe inspiring.

The best part for us was the prominence of the stars in the much darker sky. It’s amazing how much light the moon reflects back to us on an average night. And how black the canvas becomes once the lunar light is doused.

9. kateshrewsday - December 21, 2010

It’s seven o’clock in the morning for us….I’m off to iron enough clothes to get outside and look!

Solstice!!! May be passing Stonehenge so I’ll wave for you!!

nrhatch - December 21, 2010

Wouldn’t Stonehenge be a place to revel in the resplendent event?

We enjoyed the viewing . . . and luck you to be able to see it in the morning. With coffee. Or tea. 😉

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