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, 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. Abigail

    I've found a ton of great viewing information on this site. – Hope you all enjoy tonight's show!

    December 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spika

      Awesome website! thank you!!!

      December 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JST

      How sad that a major scientific event like the lunar eclipse during the solstice is taking place and your news agency quotes astrologers. Shame on CNN and sad for you who think astrologers have something additive to say about the event. Says a lot about our state of education in this country and why we’re falling so far behind.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • runinguy

      you said it JST

      December 21, 2010 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |

    time to hook up with some wican-chicks.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan


      December 20, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      With you there.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaptainThailand

      That's classic!

      December 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Trust me, the Wiccans I know aren't exactly interested in men (ugh).

      We were outside (me and the spouse, not me and the Wiccans) fully clothed and seem to be the only ones checking out the eclipse.

      December 21, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. RD

    Well, I'm ready for this special lunar eclipse and excited to see it, but sight denied by this huge storm system we have going on here in So. Cali.
    I'm hoping someone out there posts some really good pics of this tomorrow, all I see is tons of grey clouds.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Same in northern wisconsin, I was all pumped to see it had clear skies early night did get to see the moon for a little them a snow storm came and now its blocked... 🙁

      December 20, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. google it!

    You can see it online, live.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jessica

    "Full moons are times of great stress on the planet" Really? It's gravity is the same and no farther or closer that is always is. Maybe we'll have to ask the invisible sky god why...

    December 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • To Jessica

      The tides disagree with your assessment of gravity. Not that it has anything to do with stress. Maybe it's just the high water.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Please do some research before you write supid comments like the one you did. The moon has a huge impact on earths tides and seasons. This is all very old facts and is taught in grade school. So go open a book or something instead of writing garbage for us readers to waste our time reading. Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • omgron

      OMG Ron I cant stop laughing your comment was so lame lol! Hahahahahahahaha!!!

      December 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • James Bottorff

      Jessica...That is the beauty of our God....You can always speak to him, he does listen. Just unfortunate that when he does answer...sometimes you just don't like the answers....I guess intil then...enjoy the things God has given us that aren't invisible.........Hey!.....I just got shocked by electricity....yeah...that too is invisible, but lit ets you know that it does exist.

      December 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Are you stupid? Or , do you for some reason think you are funny?
      Why is it there is always a smart ass, that has to text something gross.
      Next time keep it to your self.
      You are not that importent.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Blessed is they who have not seen and yet have believed.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • micropaleo

      Okay guys, Jessica is absolutely correct. The gravitational pull of the moon on the Earth is exactly the same during a full moon or a quarter moon. The stages of the moon are caused by the angle at which we view the moon in its relation to the sun, not the distance it is from us.

      Ron, the tides are controlled by more than just the gravity of the moon. The spring tides caused during the full and new moons every month are caused, not by the moon, but by the additive effect of the sun and moon's gravity pulling in the same direction. However, the moon's gravity has absolutely zero effect on the seasons. If your grade teacher told you that she was misinformed.

      The lesson here is that sometimes, people's comments can be misinterpreted. Jessica was clearly 100% right saying that the moon's stages have no effect on its gravitational pull. She did not state that the moon has no gravity. Before you decide to flame someone, sometimes it is helpful to reread what they wrote, and make sure you read it correctly the first time. And double check your facts with wikipedia before accusing someone else of not knowing their own facts. 😉

      December 21, 2010 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
    • micropaleo

      Oh, and a big second on the mocking of CNN for quoting astrologers. Carl Sagan had the last word when he put their hokum to bed in 1982 with math that a fifth grader could do. I don't know why CNN continues to report as if these charlatans have anything meaningful to contribute to the conversation.

      December 21, 2010 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      @micropaleo – A small correction. The moon does play a part in the seasons. Currently, the influence of the moon's orbit limits the nutation of the Earth's axial tilt. This tilt is what gives us seasons. So, right now, the moon actually stabilizes our seasons. If it wasn't there, the Earth would wobble more. But as the moon gains energy from the tides and spirals outward over time, it will begin to resonate with the orbits of the planets, causing Earth's tilt to oscillate between 27 and 60 degrees. A 60 degree tilt will have rather severe effects on the seasons. Check out 'Long period variations' at Happy Solstice!

      December 21, 2010 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • micropaleo

      The axial wobble is currently only between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees on a period of 41,000 years. And you are correct that the moon does help minimize said wobble, however, the amount of variation within a human lifetime, or even the lifetime of an entire human civilization is negligible. Technically the moon is also slowing down the Earth's rotation, such that 50 million years from now we will have ~30 fewer days in the year, which will certainly affect our seasons, but I thought it wasn't directly relevant to the human experience. You are correct though.

      December 21, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. Brian

    I can't believe you quoted an astrologer in this article. Does CNN have no standards at all? Sad for you, sad for readers who consider CNN a source of real news.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Took the words right out of my mouth.

      December 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      So true Brian. A sad commentary on modern "journalism".

      December 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Yeah, seriously. Did it ever occur to CNN that they should, perhaps, interview an astronomer? You know...someone who has devoted their life to studying the cosmos ; someone who has the science to back up their beliefs...

      December 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caelyn

      You all are morons. Astrologers know a heck of a lot more then you nuts.

      December 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      A NASA astronomer was quoted on the scientific aspects of the lunar eclipse and the solstice. The astrologers commented on the cultural signifigance of the event. Maybe some of you should check the diploma mill you received your Editor-in-Chief credentials from.

      December 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      Thank you, Brian. I did a double-take at first-did they mean to type "astronomer", I thought? Nope. Vibrations...symbolism.....seriously?

      *rolls eyes*

      December 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bronson

      It would have been more credible if half of the article wasn't filled with astrological nonsense.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      As was pointed out many times before, there is very little scientific signifigance between the solstice and lunar eclipse coinciding. The only signifigance of the event is a cultural one. An astronomer is not necessarily qualified to speak on the cultural aspects of this event which the article is about. However, an astrologer who studies the culture of astrological phenomenon seems to be highly qualified to discuss these topics.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • samiam1955

      Thanks, Brian. It's bad enough that 40% of Americans think the Earth is less than 10,000 years old without CNN feeding in to ignorance by devoting space in a scientific article to quackery.

      December 20, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • T3chsupport

      Someone misunderstood when they were told to go interview some astronomers...

      December 21, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      Brian no one cares what you think. Thank God CNN does not think like you fool.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Astrologers may be qualified to talk about culture, but they are not qualified to talk about the "effects" this event will have on people. "Effects" are a scientific prediction. No scientifically provable predictions whatsoever have come out of astrology. The astrologer is NOT qualified to make such predictions!

      CNN should be ashamed of itself for peddling myths and pseudo-science. Culture? Fine. Science? Leave it to the scientists, and don't quote this garbage without so much as a rebuttal!

      December 21, 2010 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • RollsEyes


      December 21, 2010 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. janel

    Too bad you can't see it through this California rain storm

    December 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      or the New England snow storm..

      December 20, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • tyb4

      or basically anywhere in the US, seems like everyone had a snow storm this week. I, however, just got the clouds from the storm.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Devan

      Sucks that most people cannot see it. Thankfully though, where i sit in Denver, Colorado, I can see it just PERFECT!

      December 21, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. Lunatic

    Big deal!

    December 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Damon Weber

    A better take on the solstice:

    December 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ken

    Why oh why does the mainstream media still give credibility to astrologers in this day and time? A major FAIL! on the part of CNN. Guess it's time to get my news from FOX.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      let's not say things we can't take back! 😛

      but seriously, quoting an astrologer?? for shame CNN.

      December 20, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I understand everyone's point of view about the astronomer versus the astrologer thing. However, as I read the article their was no scientific data being quoted. It was an article about something fun and interesting, which an astrologer is perfectly capable of commenting on.

      As far as these message boards on the bottom of CNN articles, why quote anyone? No one agrees with anyone. Why have different opinions, everyone else is always wrong? Why have a news site, someone always thinks its a waste of their time? Why don't we all have the exact same thoughts about everything and suck all the enjoyment out of life? No one will be happy until everyone is exactly the same and then some of you will still find a reason to complain about that.

      Happy Solstice!

      December 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yep

      The same reason that people still give credibility to preachers and the 'bible'. They're gullible.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah Palinski

      Yeah Ken, come on over to Fox. It isn't news, but we need all folks like you we can get...

      December 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Robert, the astrology would be qualified to comment about some interesting occurrence if that's all he did. But he didn't.

      He talked about the "effects" this event will have on people. We all know what he meant by that. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever of any astrological effects.

      December 21, 2010 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Frankie

      Astology. It's what so many people still look at. It's the same with all the reality shows on TV. It's all trash, but so many people look at it that the networks keep stooping to new lows to give the viewers what they want. Based on the popularity of these worthless shows, CNN is making an attempt to give viewers what it sees they want; trash.

      December 21, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. George

    Another example of the abdication of reason in our country: two paragraphs for science, four for pseudoscientific B...S...

    Shameful, indeed.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Right on! Take the wrecking ball to Carnegie Hall! Burn the Louvre while your at it! Down with culture! Ban all the holidays! Books? Music? Art? Entertainment? Tradition? Bah! All a waste of our time. Pseudoscience and urban trash!

      "Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves."

      December 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • adamB

      wow you missed the point on that one robert. how does promoting science somehow attack the arts?? astrology isn't art it is magic and it just seems ridiculous to see it on the front page of CNN

      December 20, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      Astrology isn't "culture". It is pseudoscience BS in the first degree. The only thing Astrologers are experts at, and are qualified to comment on, is how to manipulate gullible people.

      December 21, 2010 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. WhatDA

    Okay, so I'm totally a Science and this FL astrologer has no proof of what he is saying. My lord....and he made it into mainstream media.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob S

    Seriously? Couldn't find an ASTRONOMER so you consulted and astrologer?!? Did you check any furtune cookies, also?

    December 20, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PARROT


    December 20, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jkjkk

    oh my god

    December 20, 2010 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
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