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. oleg

    The Moon is bright and shiny in Northest Philadelphia, PA at 12:55am

    December 21, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. csw4

    Haul a$$ to jersey you guys! It's cold(wind chill is 18 degrees!, no haze in the sky and it's perfect for"seeing"!

    December 21, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. rob

    just by reading all these negative comments, makes me wonder how this world has gone completely stupid, your lives must be totally hell, if its all you have is negativity, rethink your lives and find a way to change it, or do not reproduce as the world does not need anymore of you.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Must be something to this full moon stuff. It has already brought out many weirdo's spouting there hatred and bitterness in these comments. Perhaps with the eclipse, full moon, and solstice the bitterness is on steroids.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • WVCrone

      I was thinking the same thing. Gosh..get a life folks.! Just enjoy. Life if realllllllllllllllllllllllllly too short. I just popped out..clear and cold..in Morgantown, WV, and it looks to me to be about half way through,. Gonna see if I can get a pic on my cell phone. Peace out folks!

      December 21, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Peter

    Many Christians are hypocrites...but at least we know it 🙂

    (Hint: everyone is a sinner (except Jesus). Merry Christmas!)

    December 21, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. Run4DaHills

    I've got my Mayan coffee and dark chocolate -oh, and a coat and a lawn chair. I'm ready for the show. See y'all on the dark side of the moon.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Andrew

    CNN should really be ashamed of themselves for quoting not even one, but two astrologers on a scientific matter and for deepening the faulty beliefs of the undereducated layman readers! Under education and such journalism is what will lead the country to a state best described in Idiocracy. This is the first time I was really really unimpressed by a CNN article.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. oleg

    1:24 am the eclipse is beginning in Philadelphia, PA. Windy and cold. the sky is clear

    December 21, 2010 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. afriendcalledfive

    An astrologer?!?? I thought the first N inn CNN stood for news – guess not. Nut? Non-scientific? Nonsense? Notgonnareadanymore? Just awful.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Moongeeks.com

    Meanwhile on the dark side of the moon...

    December 21, 2010 at 1:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. Alfred

    From Hialeah, FL

    December 21, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. oleg

    well, no one in my house cares about the eclipse, but me. i guess a person has to have special character to appreciate things like this

    December 21, 2010 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Run4DaHills

      Yup, same here. Enjoy the show, my friend.

      December 21, 2010 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. T. A Calvert

    I agree with the comment regarding quoting Astrologers, if there is such a self proclaimed creature...... one should think there is enough BS in the world without such comments.... the lunar eclipse is only a result of celestial mechanics of planetary systems.... if it has effects on humans, well it just goes to show the frailty of some mind sets...

    December 21, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. fmc

    religious freaks...just zip it. Jesus christ along with several other religious stories are all related to the solstices, thats where all your myths n what not originated... CNN... cmon astrologers?! really??... no wonder we keep getting stupider as a nation.... Yea we can have real scientists n what not, but instead you interview a magic-man.... Welcome to the Suck, Americas new motto.

    December 21, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Frankie

      Actually, look at what's on TV these days. One reality show after another. CNN has nothing on the dumbing down of America. We're doing it to ourselves. The more we watch these reality shows, the lower the networks stoop to dream up another reality show. And we're dumb enough to watch them. My bet is that those of us who think interviewing an astrologer during this great scientific phenominon are greatly out numbered by those with their daily horoscope tightly clenched in hand, waiting with baited breath to read their future at just the right moment. Pathetic fools. On the other hand, I'll bet theres a lot of great hooking up going at Stonehenge and Newgrange right about now.

      December 21, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  15. Alfred

    Second Shot

    December 21, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
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