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. J.D.

    I agree with ya, Irritation. Obviously they have nothing better to do.

    December 20, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. idk

    hehe nerds im only on this cuz i dont know what a eclips is and im 10 so i cant spell so yaa

    December 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      Enjoy the show! Happy solstice!

      December 21, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Free the Leaf

    CAN'T MISS!!!

    December 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. csw4

    To Must We Hate Everything? Yes, your verrrry interesting, BUT STUPID! Yes, astrology IS irrelevant! What ancient society thought it was? Were they related to you? Astrology is a tiny fraction of importance. I have no reason to check my horoscope. Greek mythology played a huge role in the placement of constellations in the sky and their names. As for why we have 7 DAYS in a week, ancient mathematicians were responsible for that and THEY USED ASTRONOMY AS A GUIDE! They even devised their own calendars and planned their crops around certain astronomical phases. Astrologers don't understand this stuff. They are consulting with their fortune tellers right now! Go now before the line forms!

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

      I've no reason to think the stars or planets guide my life in any way. Still, that does not mean I must deride those who hold such beliefs. What some believed in the past, some still believe today. No worse, really, than the "Moon landing was faked" fanatics and certainly less offensive than the 9//11 Truthers. If you don't believe, what of it? leave others to their beliefs, they are not harming you, but you unjustified scorn injures and angers them when you DON'T need to cause pain.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • proudpagan

      THANK YOU thorrsman, i'm with ya. i don't mind when someone says they don't believe in astrology, i mind when they call it stupid. i may not believe in virgin birth or any other religion's dogma, but i respect the fact that others do, and therefore refrain from derogatory comments. no need to spread hate.

      December 21, 2010 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • sciguy73

      @Thorrsman When the 'harmless' people who believe in astrology get together and start determining the content of the textbooks your children are taught science from, you might not be quite so tolerant. Stupidity is unfortunate. Organized stupidity is dangerous.

      December 21, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |

    do we have to beware of werewolves?

    December 21, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. csw4

    UUUUUUUUUUUGH! Astrologers being quoted? CNN you've gone mad! These people need to get A REAL JOB! As a result, the unemployment rate will go way down!

    December 21, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  7. rob

    bad weather in colorado to

    December 21, 2010 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. proudpagan

    just because you don't believe in astrology doesn't mean you have to hate on it. why do other's beliefs bother yall so much?

    December 21, 2010 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. OhPeoples

    I scrolled down to look at the comments because I was curious to see the excitement of others. I have come to realize that no matter the subject, you are going to find hatefulness and negativity. Still blows my mind the things I read from real life, existing people. Why are you all talking to eachother this way about a total lunar eclipse/full moon/winter solstice is beyond me. But really? You are picking this apart to find a problem you can have. HEY! STOP! Really really bad silly. Get a hold of yourself. And while you all compete with eachother to no significant avail, you have nothing on the universe. Lighten up, and HAPPY SOLSTICE!

    December 21, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Quetzal

    For all of you ignorant people out there making negative comments towards CNN for this article and it's huge significance of tonight's celestial events. Maybe you should do a little research on the moon cycles through out the year and the knowledge of solstice and equinoxes. For thousands of years humanity in many different civilizations have followed and honored these events. To bring out this information on to the web is educational. So for those who support it, Bravo. For some of you others, get a life, read a little, learn some. Like your comments Robert.

    December 21, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Andy

    Quoting astrologers as though they have any clue about anything. Pathetic.

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

    Tonight’s feature is about to begin. It’s Free. Along with a cosmic cartoon: . Enjoy you fellow Moongeeks.

    December 21, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. commonscenes

    just because you all don't believe in in something because its either not "scientifically proven" or it isn't "of the light of christ" doesn't mean its wrong. yes, there is no proof that astrology is correct, but there isn't any proof that god exists either, but do we hate on you? no. Saying anything not christian or atheist is hokum, is just helping your image of being a large group of ignorant people. I'm not saying i believe in astrology, but I'm also not doubting it. or belittling others beliefs.

    December 21, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mia

    ...guess I'll be staying up late...

    December 21, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • zehner

      man i missed it (lousy storm clouds) ugh!!!!!!!! lucky people of different places.

      December 21, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. ron

    funny, you all bash cnn's credentials, yet you are on the site reading the news. people who complain and make fun of other things tend to be unsatisfied with their life.. maybe you people should have a look at your lives and find a way to be happier.

    December 21, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
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