Post image for Tuesdays lunar eclipse to coincide with winter solstice

Tuesdays lunar eclipse to coincide with winter solstice

by Jorge Hernandez on December 20, 2010

The first and last full moon lunar eclipse of the year will coincide with the winter solstice early Tuesday morning, offering an astronomical trifecta to viewers and stargazers.

The total lunar eclipse will occur when the moon passes through the Earth's shadow, which will block away the light of the Sun, turning Luna an eerie shade of reddish brown. Lunar eclipses usually take on a yellow-orange tint, but because of the dust in the atmosphere from Earth's recent volcanic activity, the moon will probably appear to be crimson. Parts of the moon may even be obscured in blackness, reports Fox News.

Additionally, the moon reaches its highest peak in the sky at the winter solstice, which means viewers will have a high, crystal-clear shot of the event.

The eclipse will begin on December 21 at 1:15 a.m. EST and will last for at least three hours. The total eclipse portion will last for just over an hour beginning at 2:41 a.m EST. North and Central Americans are set to get the best view of the spectacle, though they won't be so privileged in viewing next year's eclipses, according to the Washington Post.

There will be two lunar eclipses in 2011, the first of which will fall over the Eastern hemisphere and the second of which will be visible from only the western half of North America. The next total lunar eclipse that will be visible to all of North America will occur in 2014, Fox reports.

According to Time, South Americans will be able to see most of the eclipse and Europeans will see the beginning while those in Asia will catch it by the tail.

Fox reports that this will be the first opportunity anywhere around the world to see a total lunar eclipse in 34 months. The last eclipse of its kind happened on February 20, 2008.

For the less outdoorsy types, NASA will be streaming the eclipse live off its website, the Post reports.

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