Tuesday November 21st 2017

Total Lunar Eclipse December 20-21st 2010 (Pacific-Eastern Time)

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Get your binoculars and camera warmed up and ready because this Tuesday is a Full Lunar Eclipse.

Winter night skies are the best for this type of event since there is usually little cloud cover to block your view.

This offers some great opportunities to view the moon. The surface will have different shades throughout the event, which will provide views of valleys and peaks on the moon that normally would take a full lunar cycle to see. It is always spectacular to observe any shading cast across the moon, especially over a matter of hours. If you would like to document using a camera, Just remember you will need to constantly readjust your equipment to keep your frame view in line with the moon’s orbit, so it is best to keep a wide zoom.

This is a Northern Eclipse that will be visible primarily in North America (where it will be evening). You will be able to see the eclipse starting at 6:33 UT on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st (which translates to Tuesday 1:33 am EST or Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST) and is expected to end Tuesday Morning at 10:01 UT (5:01am EST or 2:30am PST). Totality (aka the Umbra or full eclipse) is expected to occur at 7:41 UT (Tuesday 2:41 am EST or Monday 11:41 pm PST).

Unlike Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses occur at night, are more frequent, and are safe to look directly at. For a Full Lunar eclipse to happen, the Sun, Earth and Moon must be perfectly aligned. When the Earth positions itself so the Sun is aligned behind it and the full moon, Earth’s shadow dances across the Moon’s surface. When the moon is completely covered we are often treated with a reddish colored moon this is a result of the glow of the Sun behind the Earth and the light refraction from our atmosphere. Lunar eclipses generally last about 3 1/2 hours so dress warmly.

What makes this eclipse even more special is the fact it is occurring on the same date of the December Solstice, a point where the rotation of the Earth shifts and the Sun is directed more towards the Southern Hemisphere. These two celestial events have not happened on the same date since 1554 AD (456 years ago). The December Solstice is more commonly referred to as the first day of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere and first day of Summer in the lower Southern Hemisphere.

Have a great night!

If you are interested in more tips, click here to read our article Binocular Astronomy – Part I: How Do I Start?

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