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. Luke

    Are you farking kidding me CNN? Astrologers? That's it. I am never visiting this site again. I could get better reporting from the Onion. You suck.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      The Onion is always more truthful than CNN, Fox, CBS, MSNBC, ABC, etc.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      The onion is a vegetable!

      December 20, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim armstrong

      The coming together of 2 cestial occurances and all you folks have to comment about is your belefs about astronomy vs astrology? Why not st back and enjoy something that doesn't happen very often? Leave the comments for a time when you try to impress someone. Be careful or you might actually enjoy it all, worse still you might actually learn something.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. shilby

    this is awesome, I
    am not sleeping tonigh

    December 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. proudpagan

    ok, i get everyone is mad that cnn has an article that quotes an astrologer, but c'mon, get some perspective. just a few weeks ago there was some article on who the "three wise men" might have been from some christian scholar, one of many articles that are based in religious beliefs. neo-paganism is a fairly new movement (hence the neo), and we don't have tons of schools that specialize in pagan religious beliefs where one can walk away with a fancy degree. astrologers are the best we got. yes, it's faith. no, it can't be proven. but to our credit, we don't hate on everyone who disagrees with us. so quit being so negative.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Although I am in agreement with you for the most part, not all Christians trash everything. Just as not all, pagans or neopagans are free from hypocritical tendencies. Absolute qualifiers are absolute failures in arguments. The CNN trolls will be all over this oversight. Your argument would have been more well received had you mentioned that the solstice has been observed from a cultural standpoint for millenia and left it at that.

      Happy solstice!

      December 20, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • shell bell

      you said it all

      December 21, 2010 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. untasered

    You covered a hard news story with quotes from an astrologer? Why not talk to an alchemist too?

    December 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      Because Alchemists are too hard to find here on Earth. Back home, we've discovered how to turn lead into gold.

      December 20, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brucemo

    Six paragraphs of useless astrology garbage, good job.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brett

    Seriously – an astrologer is quoted in a scietific article? I guess the lunar wave disruptions really got into the head of the editors.

    December 20, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cat721

    cannot waaaait (:

    December 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Limbaugh is a liberal

    But, but... the world will end in 2012! Isn't all 'alignment' stuff supposed to happen two years from now? Aren't astrologers the same as scientists and can accurately tell us every detail of our lives that are supposed to happen? And if my hind alligns with the toilet, will that cause mass extinction of camels?

    December 20, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vidkid


    December 20, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. kim

    Im going to see this event as a positive thing since it will be my first solice lunar eclipse and wont be another in my lifetime. We need to mind the signs in the sky. Some of you are just too negative its doom gloom and misery do some of you smile or laugh or is that unheard of.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Native Red

      I was four years old when 2000 happened. I didn't get it. Now I do and I laugh in their faces when I give them other doomsday predictions that went wrong. 🙂

      December 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • itsjustme

      Kim: there is always at least one pair of eclipses yearly - solar and lunar eclipses run in pairs. We had 2 pairs this year, I believe.

      The last one visible to this area was nearly 3 years ago; I also remember another one in 2003. If it's not cloudy, a lunar eclipse is s a spectacular sight to see.

      December 20, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tim Ellis

    Wait, what? Astrologers? In a legitimate news article about actual things happening?

    Sweet merciful crap, CNN, I thought this was a reputable news site.

    Now I'm afraid if I go to the weather section I'll have to kill a chicken and read the entrails to get a prediction.

    Here, look at what you just put on your website: "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.' "

    Read that again. Now you too can suffer the feeling of getting dumber with every word.

    Oh, but you'd better read it more slowly, the four planetary phenomena tell you to.

    I wish I could roll my eyes a little harder.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ryan

    Astrologer, Religion, ahhaaha, why not ask a scientists who base beliefs on evidence? Cmon CNN

    December 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ella


    December 20, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ella


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

    Some of you who disregaurd this info as being mumbo jumbo might want to take a closer look at the cycles of the planet...and your own connection...which you cannot escape.

    December 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
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