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. ay

    COMMENT 165 DIDO

    December 21, 2010 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Alfred

    View from Hialeah,FL at 3:30 AM EST

    December 21, 2010 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • XUSMCVET

      WOW! Now THAT is a great picture of it.

      December 21, 2010 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
    • jl-lt

      Thanks for posting the picture!

      December 21, 2010 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bella

    I saw the eclipse and it was awesome but why didn't I or don't I see any color?

    December 21, 2010 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      Then you didn't see it lol...it was just like the picture around 3 am!

      December 21, 2010 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  4. Phill

    Yash just because the earth moves in front of the Moon blocking the sun does not mean god mad it happen its just Science.......

    December 21, 2010 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      The crazy religious nuts never listen to reasons so why bother. The fact that anyone believes of of those religions in today's day and age is sad enough.

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

    thank you alfred! stunning creations of god! enjoy

    December 21, 2010 at 3:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Karloff

      It's good the bible has all the scientific information you'd need. Oh, it doesn't mention lunar eclipses? Or solar eclipses? Or geology? Or the solar system?

      God must have forgotten to write all those things down in his book. Well, maybe in his next book....

      December 21, 2010 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
  6. Breanna

    Uqhh iBeen Uhp All Niqht And iHavent Seen Not One Thinqq.. Why Kant iSee It..???

    December 21, 2010 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • XUSMCVET

      You can't see it because there are clouds obstructing your view 😦

      December 21, 2010 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      You can't see it because you spell like an idiot.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Breanna

    iKant See Anythinqq In North Carolina Kan Sumbody tell Me Why

    December 21, 2010 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Please tell me you are only ten. I am from north Carolina and you are giving our state a bad name with your inbred spelling.

      December 21, 2010 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Theresa Rauch

      Because you can not spell that is why.

      December 21, 2010 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. TY

    Why must they mix in astrology with science??? Must CNN really lend any credence to this gross ignorance?

    December 21, 2010 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • AARON

      Ignorance?! Yo, yo got it pretty backwards. Seems like the ignorance is on your behalf, brother. Astrology IS science and has been a proven method of precision and time for life times. Maybe your a Virgo? LOL!

      December 21, 2010 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Same thought occurred to me...

      December 21, 2010 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I am not sure why they interviewed astrologers (Zodiac signs/horoscopes) for this article when they should have interviewed astronomers (stars/planets). They lost credibility with me.

      December 21, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Came here to post the same thing–complete idiocy. It's well past time to change the name from CNN (Cable News Network) to CEN (Cable Entertainment Network).

      December 21, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. yash

    phill, im not looking to make a believer out of you(god forbid) its just for those that believe theres a god and believe that he created the world and continues to run it this just strengthens our belief and allows us to appreciate things that go on in this world a bit more than non-believers (the doors open)

    December 21, 2010 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Richie

    So I just had a revelation tonight after reading everyones post and I really do believe in the Lord, and Jesus Christ! Thankyou everyone! Life is great!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joyce

    Can't see it in west central Illinois – too cloudy! ) :

    December 21, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. ay

    yash comment 165 ,181
    im with u for those that believe in god everything in this world has a purpose and its alot easier to get through life enjoy

    December 21, 2010 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. Richie

    So after reading everyones post tonight I had a revelation. I now do truley believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He does truly work in misterous ways to point you in the direction you need to go. Many things that have fallen into to my life have been because of him. I just guess it took a bunch of arguing and crazy post i read too see the signs. Sad I know? Everyone enjoy your evening!

    December 21, 2010 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. valerie

    I cannot see its to foggy =(

    December 21, 2010 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  15. kamenla

    It's a pity that I didn't see the lunar eclipse

    December 21, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
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