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Lunar Eclipse December 2010 to Coincide with Winter Solstice

By John Cave Osborne |

A total lunar eclipse will happen in the early morning hours of 12/21 eastern time.

Do you follow NASA on Twitter? Didn’t think so. But I do. I know. Very edgy. Anyway, I’m glad I do or I might have missed some important news they tweeted earlier this month. North America and the western portion of South America will be treated to a rare total lunar eclipse in the early morning hours of December 21.

And before you go off thinking what I initially though, let me just tell you: No—I’m not confusing the total lunar eclipse with the winter solstice. They actually occur on the exact same day this year, at least if you’re on the east coast.

Wild, isn’t it? According to NASA‘s tweet, on the winter solstice, the very shortest day of the year, we will also witness a total lunar eclipse. If you click on the link NASA provided in their tweet, it takes you to a very technical description of the event. But the Los Angeles Times ran a story yesterday that was easier for the layman to understand, at least it was for this layman.

The action will start at 1:33 am eastern (on what will by then be December 21 on the east coast, but still December 20 on the west coast.) when the moon will begin to enter the Earth’s inner shadow, also known as the Earth’s umbra. At that point, weather permitting, everyone in North America will see a red-brown shadow slowly make its way across the surface of the moon. After 2:41 am the moon will be fully eclipsed and will remain eclipsed until 3:53am. The moon will then begin to come out of the Earth’s umbra and will once again become fully visible 5:01 am eastern.

Unlike a solar eclipse, the moon seldom looks blackened out during a total lunar eclipse. Instead, thanks to the refraction of light from sunrises and sunsets all across the world, the moon usually takes on a bright copper-orange shade, or sometimes a dark red-black shade if there’s a lot of pollution in the atmosphere.

Regardless of what shade the moon becomes, it will be a fantastic event to witness for people of all ages. And unlike the recent Geminid meteor shower, some of us won’t have to stay up too incredibly late to witness it, at least those of us who reside on the west coast, that is. That means the total lunar eclipse could be an ideal activity for the whole family.

Me? I’m on the east coast, but I still may try to watch. After all, total lunar eclipses don’t happen every day. The last time one occurred was on February 20, 2008. And the next one won’t happen until April 14-15 2014.

In the event that weather will prohibit some from witnessing the total lunar eclipse, NASA will be showing it live via this link. Will you be watching?

Image: Wikipedia

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About John Cave Osborne


John Cave Osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as Babble, TLC, YahooShine, and the Huffington Post. John went from carefree bachelor to father of four in just 13 months after marrying a single mom, then quickly conceived triplets. Since then, they have added one more to the mix, a little boy they named Grand Finale. Read bio and latest posts → Read John's latest posts →

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18 thoughts on “Lunar Eclipse December 2010 to Coincide with Winter Solstice

  1. Hfm says:

    Your adjustment to eastern time is wrong. It will start at 2:33am (add three hours to PST, not subtract)

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      WOW! What an embarrassing mistake (not to mention a dumb one!) Off to correct…

  2. Hank Jones says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one trying to give people a “heads up” about the eclipse! Your times listed for the eastern time zone all need to be shifted to 5 hours later. In the eastern time zone the penumbral eclipse will start shortly after midnight, at 12:27:43 a.m., and ends at 6:06:04 a.m. Partial eclipse is from 1:32:17 a.m. to 5:01:39 a.m., and totality is from 2:40:21 a.m. to 3:53:34 a.m. On that NASA page they have the table times in UT, but the diagram gives times for the eastern time zone (UT-5H)

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @Hank—Fantastic! Thanks so much. Off to correct!

  3. June says:

    oh, this other article says it starts on the 21st at 1:15 am eastern time
    It would be 10:15 pm Dec. 20 for me here on the Pacific Coast. Guess I will watch both nights. I don’t want to miss it.

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @June—I made an embarrassing mistake when converting the time over from west coast to east coast. (unbelievable!) I went the wrong way!! Regardless of my error, the times in the LA Times article jive with the NASA site. Should start at 1:33 am eastern, 10:33 pacific. check out the slide at the bottom of this page from NASA:

  4. June says:

    Your link to the LA TImes article also states it starts Monday, Dec. 20

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @June—12/20 on west coast, but 12/21 on east coast (just after midnight…) You should be on the lookout around 10:33 12/20. I put in a parenthetical which I hope will make it easier to understand…

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  10. yudh says:

    Lunar Eclipse 2010, Winter Solstice To Overlap On December 21
    LOS ANGELES — ‘Twill be nights before Christmas and high overhead, the moon will turn brown or maybe deep red. The Earth and the sun with celestial scripts will conspire to make a lunar eclipse.

  11. ALittleShort says:

    Too bad its total cloud cover here on the west coast :( there is a very good possibility I will not see it simply because of the constant rain.

    1. John Cave Osborne says:

      @ALittleShort—you can log on to the website. i know it’s not the same, but still…

  12. [...] John Cave of Strollerderby reports A total lunar eclipse, which appeared blood red, happened in the early morning hours of 12/21/2010 … [...]

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