Final lunar eclipse of 2010 set for early morning of December 21
December 17th, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Final lunar eclipse of 2010 set for early morning of December 21

Skygazers hoping to catch the last lunar eclipse of 2010 on Tuesday morning best be ready to stay up late (or wake up very early) to watch the full moon as it goes through a range of dramatic color changes.

The December 21 lunar eclipse is expected to last about three-and-a-half hours from its start as a partial eclipse at 1:33 a.m. ET to its finish at 5:01 a.m. ET, according to NASA. The previous lunar eclipse occurred June 26.

Share your images and video of the eclipse through iReport.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon, the Earth, and the sun align so that the sun's rays are shielded from the moon. An eclipse of the moon can only take place if the moon is full, and only if the moon passes through some portion of Earth's shadow, which is composed of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other.

The start of the total eclipse is expected around 2:41 a.m, when the entire moon passes through the Earth's umbra, or inner shadow, which blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the moon.

The moon will take on a vibrant red color until 3:35 a.m., according to NASA.

Before and after the total eclipse, the moon will pass through the penumbra, or outer region of the Earth's shadow, where Earth blocks some of the sun's rays, but not all.

The entire event is visible from North America, Greenland and Iceland. Western Europe will see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset while western Asia will get the later stages after moonrise. To find out the best viewing times outside of the Eastern Time Zone, check out NASA's page on the December 21 lunar eclipse, and then refer to this handy guide for converting times.

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soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. T Bear

    Half of the moon can be seen from earth, of course, because it's in a geo-synchronous orbit.

    The lunar eclipse on the winter solstice, sounds like the end of the Mayan calendar to me. :)

    December 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Cesar

    @T Bear: Why don't you go to NASA, build you a space ship, then go the Uranus and sit there? So, in a nutshell, sit on Uranus.

    December 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Joe

    The moon is not in a geosynchronous orbit.

    December 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mike

    1:33 to 5:01. Hmmm I think I'll pass this one up.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    The moon would need to be 22,500 miles away to be in geosynchronus orbit. So if it was we probably wouldn't be here to have this conversation.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • brian

      You obviously have no idea what the effin word means.

      December 20, 2010 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • JerryBFF

      Actually, geosynchronous, in simplest terms, means that a satellite would appear to be directly overhead relative to one particular place on the globe at the same time every day. Has nothing to do with distance. It's actually a bit more complicated than that, but I'm just some dude, not a rocket scientist.

      December 20, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    Hey, Cesar, obsessed much with Uranus?

    December 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • sunsohot

      LOL.....I was waiting for that :)

      December 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captian Kirk

      Beware of the Klingons near Uranus!!

      December 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. moon

    Actually, more than 50% of the moon can be seen from earth. Observe the moon from the N. Pole. Got it? Now, observe the moon from the S. Pole. Figure the rest out for yourself.

    December 17, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • brian

      So you believe you can see the back side of the moon? From where? Go back to your bong and reruns of Beavis and Butthead.

      December 20, 2010 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Simmy

    It was pleasant reading through a majority of the posts. So different than the usual bashing of others I usually read over. Looks like the really intelligent folks are responding. Very refreshing. Thanks Everyone!

    December 17, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Robert

    Question # 1: The ISS Is 115 Miles Above Earth, What Is The Vector Distance X Angle Of The Point Between Cape Kennedy's Control Room, The Control Module Of The Station, The US Flag In The Sea of Tranquility? Question #2: Granted That The ISS Is Orbiting Earth, If One of the Astronauts Wants To Take A Picture Of the Flag, Then How Much Force Is Required To Propel The Station To The Correct Point To Include the Exact Spot Where Armstrong, Aldrin, Shepard, & Shirra Landed In 1969? Question # 3: How Much Time Would The Picture Relay To USA Today Headquarters On A Fiber Optic Connection From The ISS To Cape Kennedy To A Newspaper Stand In Washington, DC?

    December 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thomas

      Question #4 – Why would anyone go to the trouble of capitalizing every single word in his statement?

      December 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Thomas, he probably typed it on his phone. Some phones do that.

      December 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. N

    The sun, earth and moon will be pretty much in line with the center of our galaxy. The sun pointing toward the center, the moon away.

    December 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. moon

    Apollo missed it's targeted landing spot on the moon by several thousand yards. Back then we didn't know how we could be that far off. Now we know. do you?

    December 17, 2010 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. @Robert

    Those questions are too difficult, and kinda boring. (smile)

    December 17, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Eflos

    Actually, I'm really interested in knowing "What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

    December 18, 2010 at 12:52 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      Is that an African Swallow or European Swallow?

      December 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shrubbery

      Neeeet! Neeeeeet!

      December 20, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sean

    I wish I were smarter.

    December 18, 2010 at 1:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. tomcat

    ok for those still wondering. go outside when it is dark. look for the moon. got it? good. keep watching moon. presto chango keep looking...wow magic see real simple even us folks in Texas can figger er out

    December 18, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
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