Strangers in the night: Lunar eclipse, solstice meet again
December 20th, 2010
08:48 PM ET

Strangers in the night: Lunar eclipse, solstice meet again

It's not every lifetime that you get a chance to celebrate a solstice with a total eclipse of the moon.

Weather permitting, a lunar eclipse will be visible from 1:33 to 5:01 a.m. ET Tuesday, with the total eclipse starting at about 2:41 a.m., according to NASA.

The eclipse happens to be on the day of a solstice (first day of winter for the Northern Hemisphere; first day of summer for the Southern Hemisphere). The last time a lunar eclipse happened on a solstice was 372 years ago, in 1638, the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Geoff Chester told NASA.

Why is this significant, besides being so rare that it hasn't happened since Galileo was living out his days under house arrest? For eclipse watchers, it means "that the moon will appear very high in the night sky, as the solstice marks the time when Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun," according to NASA.

Scientists aren't the only ones interested in the confluence. To astrologers, Tuesday morning's package - the Northern Hemisphere's darkest day of the year, a full moon and a total lunar eclipse - is a doozie.

Share your video and images of the eclipse through iReport.

Florida astrologer Brian Hill says each event has a significant effect on people. A lunar eclipse alone, he says, disrupts vibrations from the moon, letting people’s intuition work more freely and allowing them “to receive information that the logical left brain normally doesn't get."

A full moon, the culmination of a cycle, portends endings, and a winter solstice gets people feeling an energy of withdrawal, in the manner that allows animals know it’s time to hibernate, he says. With Mercury also in retrograde, now is the time for reflection and introspection, he says.

"The four big planetary phenomenon at the same time tell us to slow down and see what’s going on," Hill said Monday. "Everything is saying, 'Slow down, we're moving way too fast, and really take a look at what we’re doing, where we’re going and what we want to do.' "

Another Florida astrologer, Bob Mulligan, told the News-Press of Fort Myers he also sees the solstice/eclipse confluence as a big deal: "With solstices, we traditionally mark the beginning of seasons as turning points. Full moons are times of great stress on the planet. A lunar eclipse is a full moon on steroids; symbolically, it’s a time of letting go of something from the past."

So, Mulligan told the News-Press, 2011 "will be a breath of relief, the death of one way of doing things and the very beginning of something brand new."

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth lines up between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun’s rays and casting its shadow on the moon, NASA says, and eclipse watchers will be in for a colorful treat.

As the moon moves into Earth’s shadow, it appears to change color, turning from gray to orange to deep red. The new color stems from indirect sunlight that passes through Earth’s atmosphere and casts a glow on the moon, according to NASA. No special equipment is needed for viewing, unlike solar eclipses.

The Ursid meteor shower might also be in view Tuesday morning, thanks to the blocking of the moonlight, Space.com reported.

The eclipse will be visible from North America, Greenland and Iceland. Western Europe will see the beginning stages 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.

Those who'd like to watch the eclipse indoors can check out NASA's live video web feed. Through that same link, you can access a live chat with Marshall Space Flight Center astronomer Mitzi Adams from midnight to 5 a.m. ET.

If you miss this lunar eclipse, you'll get your next shot at seeing one in the continental United States on April 15, 2014. But you have quite a while to wait for the next lunar eclipse on a solstice - that won't happen for another 84 years, Chester said.



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Filed under: Earth • Science • Space
soundoff (265 Responses)
  1. Lola

    Thanks, for sharing your pic.:)

    December 21, 2010 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sydney Australia

    Why in the ef are astrologers being quoted in the article? 'Vibrations from the moon are being blocked' – nothing but bad science. Just too stupid for words................

    December 21, 2010 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
    • conradshull

      Not "bad science", rather the total absence of science. Astrology is dumber than three day old dog flatulence.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. carrzgowns

    very nice post ,
    Looking for prom dresses 2011 .The carrazgowns is the right place to be http://carrazgowns.com

    December 21, 2010 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lola

    Wow. Some people really need to pray! GOD LOVES YOU ALL.

    December 21, 2010 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. phil

    @Karloff...outstanding point! I didn't really know my father until he sat me down and explained geology and astronomy to me. How could I have ever been able to put faith in my Dad unless he did this? If my father failed to explain lunar and solar eclipses to me, how could I ever really get to know him? I probably would have never trusted him.either. Thanks dad. (RIP)

    December 21, 2010 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. phil

    @Lola...True, God does love us all. But does he love what all of us are doing? Probably not eh?

    December 21, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Lola

    If anyone really would like to know GOD just read the bible, and just talk to him (pray) just try it and see for your self what will happen. God is good 🙂 he will became your bff if you let him, he is the only one how will always be with you and never hurt you like your friends or family will. TRY GOD

    December 21, 2010 at 7:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lola

    @phil God may not like what we are doing but he will forgive us in a heart beat, if we r turly sorry for what we have done.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. phil

    I think the moon is wonderful. Here in Colorado, there is this mountain we call Chair Mountain. When the moon hangs low, it appears to be sitting in the chair! It's a wonderful sight. I'm getting goose-bumps as images cross my mind. You can see the Quaking Aspen trees and traces of snow on the mountains edge thanks to the moon glowing. However, this amazing sight cannot be viewed from your porch or from your window. To see this, you must travel and then hike quite a ways. I'd be upset if after going through all that trouble, the earth's shadow was blocking my view. My father showed me this when I was just a young boy. I will never forget. Thanks dad! (RIP) But yeah, eclpises are neeto.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. phil

    @Lola...true. The above "Chair Mountain" post of mine...there is simply no way that could be by accident.

    December 21, 2010 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. phil

    "The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we have no difficulty building a spaceship to fly to the moon and can time the flight with the precision of a fraction of a second. These laws must have been set by somebody"– Wernher von Braun

    December 21, 2010 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    @Lola...thank you for being here. You have encouraged an old man (me). Don't ever stop trying to help us pls. It's not often someone like you comes around. (smile)

    December 21, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Amber

    Come on people we are all brought to this comment section for one reason and that was to simply to discuss the wonders of the universe and it's natural phenomenas. Criticizing one another for whatever they believe is most definitely killing the vibe. To each his own, live and let live. We are no different then the next person and we do not know what is and isn't so let us just admire the universes beauties and stop critiquing peons in their grammar, religion and other unecassary non sense. Remeber why you came here to express your love for something beautiful..... Evolve yourselves....

    December 21, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Amber

      My bad I meant people....before I get people burning me and asking what peons means : /

      December 21, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  14. specialk1964

    I live in an area where there is very little artificial light. The stars, the deep blue sky and the crescent – orangeburst moon was simply to awesome to describe with one word. Best yet, when I went upstairs to go to bed, my husband told me I could see it from our BATHROOM! Afterwards, I can't recall ever sleeping so soundly..zzzzz Yes, GOD is truly AMAZING!!!!!

    December 21, 2010 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dennis2547

    Amazing sight from Marin County up until the cloud cover started to really roll in. Saw all of the event leading up to the reddish disc phase. Ten with the help of some cod weather gloves, another couple of layers plus additional jacket on top of another (it was damp cold last night), plus a couple cups of hot chocolate, the event was beautiful, majestic as the moon came back to it's full bright brilliant self. A beautiful once in a lifetime experience.
    A retired US Army veteran

    December 21, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
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