If you’re like me, you’ve recently wondered why it seems there are less hours in the day – and why is it so shivering cold outside ?! I have an answer. It’s the Winter solstice coupled with a total (Did you hear me? … Total!) lunar eclipse. Can you say "celestial goodies!" – I bet you’re not as excited as I am.
The last time this occurred was in the year 1638. We anticipate that tonight (Monday, December 20,2010) we will experience a total lunar eclipse to accompany the winter solstice. Another Total Lunar Eclipse is not expected until December 21, 2485. I didn’t make any typos, those are the dates. I know, right ?!?
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
The winter solstice is the coldest and longest night of the year because the axis of the Earth is farthest away from the sun. This cold and dark night is also attributed to the sun being beneath the horizon for the longest period of time and the eclipse blocks lights from the sky even more – darkness upon darkness.
THE LUNAR ECLIPSE
A lunar eclipse is when The Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun. The sun, moon and Earth will all be aligned.
Image Courtesy of: www.space.com
Outside. Look up at the sky, find the moon, and don’t move until you see something awesome!
Approximately 12:30 am Eastern Standard Time. It is expected to last about 3.5 hours until 3:30 am Eastern Standard Time. Click ->HERE<- to find out what time the partial eclipse and total eclipse starts and ends in your time zone.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
You’ll know if you’ve seen the best part of the Lunar Eclipse if you see the sky turn a deep orangish/redish color. The darker the color is the more particulate matter there is in the atmosphere. You might also see a shooting/falling star or two.
OKAY, SO WHY IS IT A BIG DEAL?
I’ll explain. The last time this occurred was 372 years ago on December 21, 1638. The next one is scheduled 475 years from now on December 21, 2485. By design, we are here, alive and breathing right now when this is occurring on December 21, 2010. Let that sink in. I’d say the extremely rare occurrence of this event is enough alone to make it a big deal. The really amazing thing though is that this is when we experience a full moon during a Winter Solstice coupled with a – wait for it … Total Lunar Eclipse!
Image Credit: www.scienceblogs.com
Be sure to visit this article again once the eclipse is over to see pictures and maybe a video (if I don’t fall asleep).
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