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. Must we hate everything?

    Wow, it is sad to see such hateful and ignorant attacks on CNN for asking an astrologer about a very significant even in astrology. I, for one, find the perspective to be interesting and colorful. Also, astrology is very relevant and it was the cosmological world view for some 4 thousand years. Of course, to those who are dogmatic and believe that science is correct about everything (99.9% of modern science will be disproved in 50 years just as it was the 50 years before) and that people only starting thinking once white men created universities. Much of the structure of our society and culture come from the roots that you ignorant hate mongers attack so readily. If your so convinced that astrology is irrelevant to you let me ask you this…how many days do you have in your week? Why is that?

    December 20, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • adamB

      science is a process not a set of beliefs. maybe im confused about what dogmatic means. one belief that goes unchanged for 4000 years despite overwhelming evidence against it and one belief that we can change our minds when new evidence arises.... and which did you say was dogmatic? the process of science means that if the evidence eventually shows astrology is true then we have to accept it. not holding my breath on that one however....

      December 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    This isn't the SCIENCE section of the website. It is the BLOG section. This isn't HARD news. It is an interesting topic to some and maybe not to the rest of you. However, many of the criticisms below show how people are quick to be negative and very slow at grasping easy words like BLOG and SCIENCE.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • TA

      The reason this isn't in the science section is that CNN removed it awhile back and fired their science reporters. This is example A of the results of that move. The American population gets dumber by the hour and CNN is there to help!

      December 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dmh

    I don't know if anyone posted it, because there are too many comments to read; however, all lunar eclipses occur on the night of a full moon. For an eclipse to occur, the moon must be full. Just as all solar eclipses occur during new moons.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    Get your facts straight.. the article says last eclipse was 1638 and the guy in the video said 1554... which is it?

    December 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      I'm pretty sure it was in the 1500's, but don't quote me.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jo Davis

    This is what I find interesting.... in the article, CNN says it is an astrologer making these statements. OK so someone can say" oh they don't know anything" just as people say weathermen don't know anything, or a certain political party doesn't know anything or someone who is OR isn't religious doesn't know anything. It is about difference of opinion. But while you all want to fuss, think about this: When Jesus was born it was the ASTROLOGERS – the "WISE MEN" who came and honored the child! They also had a dream which essentially saved Jesus' life. Oh yeah you're right. It is all make believe. But this has been an honored part of the Christian tradition for a couple thousand years. I'm just saying.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • adamB

      astrology isn't an opinion. my opinion is that backing up the ridiculous with even more ridiculousness (invoking the 3 wise men??) is kinda ridiculous

      December 20, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tim Ellis

    Wait, wait, sorry. I take it all back. I'm receiving information from the stars that my logical left brain normally wouldn't get and it's making it call come clear.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris B

    Gee, thanks for including all that astrology mumbo-jumbo.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brooke

    Seriously? You people have nothing better to do than dog CNN on whether or not they should have quoted an astrologer vs. an astronomer? I bet you guys got beat up a lot in high school, huh?

    December 20, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      I'm in high school! I don't get beat up. hahaha. Of course, having a red belt in Tae Kwon Do helps.....

      December 20, 2010 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah Palinski

      Hey Red, I have a black belt...from Kmart..wanna fight??

      December 20, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • shell bell

      lol that was great. im a great believer in astrology

      December 21, 2010 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Pinecone

    Sure wish the media would stop including in their articles about real science Ie. astronomy with pseudo science ie. astrology.

    December 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Irritation

    You people are morons. Stop fighting over stupid crap and just enjoy the view.

    December 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • adamB

      you just don't get it. all the worlds problems are settled in the comments section

      December 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. csw4

    Rob, the guy in the video is no brighter than a 25 watt bulb. I don't know where 1554 came from but it really didn't happen until 1638. Galileo was under house arrest for defying the catholic church's beliefs about the center of the universe when this was happening.

    December 20, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TA

    Astrologers!?!?! What the !@$?#£¥! kind of nonsense is that!? You dedicated a major portion of this piece to pseudo science? What's next, equal time for flat earthers and creationists? Have you lost your collective minds, or merely your integrity?

    December 20, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pat

    Astrology? What a joke. Come on CNN. Do some real journalism. Are you going to interview Jenny McCarthy next time there's a flu outbreak?

    December 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. brian

    WHY are astrologers being quoted and presented as credible? These flat-earth clowns don't deserve any association with a genuine astronomical event.

    December 20, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tomcat

    what do we do? i was making a foil hat and ran out. will parchment paper help? i have an old leather fire helmet i wore (never let me down before). the last full moon i saw was when this lady dropped her wallet and that was scary enough! wait, i live in Texas, we have super trooper chuck norris, he will save. if not we can chill with willie and sing old songs. is this like y2k? we are doomed.....help

    December 20, 2010 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
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