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. csw4

    Why aren't you guys not in NJ or PA? The skies are perfect!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  2. Alfred

    At 3:00 AM EST

    December 21, 2010 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tony G.

    Working the night shift in northern alberta canada....cold....brrrrr....clear/brisk sky...awesome sight to see

    December 21, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  4. Greg

    In Miami FL the view is pretty astounding. I know a lot of you G.E.D recipients really don't care or understand but this is pretty monumental stuff. May not be as cool as the movie 2012 (which i assume you all saw) but to most of the world- pretty neat. Please: if you only have a cursory understanding of astronomy that you read at you local science center, go blog about lady Gaga or the royal wedding. THE ADULTS ARE TRYING TO TALK HERE.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Paul

    Another BOO to CNN for filling this article with "vibrations" and other nonsense. Enjoying the information my eyes are receiving of the moon in the earth's shadow here in NC on a beautiful, crisp & cold night.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ron

    Western Asia will see it after moonrise? Surely they mean eastern Asia? I saw the same mistake in another article; I think they're just copying each other.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. rod

    I'm in gillette wyoming its 9 degrees and cloud free this is looking good so far wish my camera was better

    December 21, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. ezmeister

    haha we can see it perfectly in Maryland

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

    WOW! in central nj clear skies and a gorgeous view! if ur up go out and enjoy the brilliant creations of god. btw u can take a picture of it with your standerd digital camera and then get a prerty good view of it when you zoom in

    December 21, 2010 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. ThatScreenNameIsAlreadyTaken

    god damn clouds.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. yash

    GOD'S AMAZING! enjoy!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
    • charlene

      In illinios, cloudy, can not see nothing!!! woke up kids to see no luck!!! Darn!!!!

      December 21, 2010 at 4:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Yeah, "GOD." I think the unobservable constant of infiniteness that our galaxy is awesome.
      Drank wine and watched the eclipse while listening to Dark Side of The Moon, and Astronomy Domine, the first time that event has coincided. I must say, I will do again if I'm alive in 372 years.

      December 21, 2010 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Karloff

      No, science is amazing. "God" is just the object of the world's mass delusion. What a wonderful astronomical event!

      December 21, 2010 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
    • rey

      @Karloff
      Rom 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

      Rom 1:19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

      Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

      Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

      Rom 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

      December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Abigail

      I've found a ton of great viewing information on this site. http://www.spacedex.com/lunar-eclipse – Hope you all enjoyed the show!

      December 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Frankie

    Absolutely beautiful. Everytime there's some kind of eclipse on the central California coast, it's cloudy and I can't see a thing. But this time there's not a cloud in the sky. Excuse me while I go back outside................

    December 21, 2010 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. erin

    I hate this in Wisconsin we cant see it because of the snow and the clouds in the sky ...........

    December 21, 2010 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
  14. DONNA

    HI EVERYONE WATCHING THE ECLIPSE IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. JUST THINK I LIVE HERE IN ONTARIO CANADA AND MAN IT'S COLD OUT THERE. JUST LIKE SOMEONE SAID A LOT SOONER JUST ENJOY IT YOU WILL NEVER SEE IT AGAIN IN UNLESS YOU LIVE ANOTHER 84 YEARS.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Breanna

      Have A Good Time Lookinq At It Enjoy

      December 21, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Matt

    Not able to see anything in IL, right across from St. Louis. I was looking forward to this too.

    December 21, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • XUSMCVET

      Same here, Matt 😦 We have total cloud cover here in Burlington, Vermont...and is it ever COLD outside!

      December 21, 2010 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
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