Lunar Eclipse Tonight December 20th 2010

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Don't Miss the Lunar Eclipse Tonight December 20th 2010

There will be a total lunar eclipse tonight occurring during the overnight hours December 20 to 21, 2010 and will be the the best celestial event of its kind until the year 2014 for the residents of North America. It will officially begin on December 21 2010 at 12:29 EST, or 9:29 PST on December 20, just as the moon begins it’s ascent into Earth’s shadow. Although this is termed the start of the eclipse, nothing will be visible until 45 minutes into the show, when a small shadow becomes evident on the upper left hand side of the moon. At the end of this post is a chart that will show the visibility of this eclipse from the different continents around the globe. This celestial event can be seen in it’s entirety over North and Central America, and parts of the eclipse will be visible from Europe, Northwestern Africa, and parts of Australia, It is not visible from southern or eastern Africa and India.

There will also be another treat in store for us on this tonight! For those of you who may remember the Genminid Meteor Shower which peaked on December 13, 2010, as star gazers and sky watchers alike from around the planet enjoyed the bright Geminid Meteor Shower. For those who may have missed the beauty of this phenomenon, don’t be discouraged because late tonight and early December 21, 2010 there will be another meteor shower – the Ursids meteor shower according to space.com.

The Ursids meteor shower aren’t supposedly bright enough as the Geminid, but the stars and the moon are aligned on a very nice position on this night that the Ursids meteor shower will be visible.

An eclipse of the moon is unlike an eclipse of the sun in that the moon eclipse presents no dangers to those observing it, and no special precautions are need to protect the viewers eyes from the viewing. These eclipses of the moon occur as the moons orbit takes it to a point where the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon. When the moon enters into this area of the shadow of the Earth, it creates the lunar eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the whole moon is inside of the Earth’s shadow. Some of the sun’s rays still reach the moon though, and it is still visible as the sun’s rays are bent by the Earth’s atmosphere.

The lunar eclipse December 20 – 21 2010 first visible change will be at 1:33 AM EST, 10:33 PST, as the shadow of the Earth slowly begins to cover the face of the full moon. At 2:41 AM EST or 11:41 PST for you west coasters, this is when the eclipse reaches totality and will cover the entire surface of the moon, but the sunlight that is bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the planet will produce a coppery glow to the moon. During this phase, if you view the moon with either a small telescope or binoculars, the moon will appear to be glowing from within by its own light. At 3:18 AM EST, as the sun, Earth and Moon align nearly perfectly, will be when the moon appears dimmest, and totality ends at 3:53 AM EST, 12:53 PST. The whole event will be over at 5:01 AM EST, 2:01 AM PST as the moon is completely passed through the shadow of our planet. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes later, the last signs of the event, as in the shadow in the upper right hand corner of the moon will disappear and the moon returns to it’s full vibrant self. We hope you enjoy watching the lunar eclipse tonight!

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Tracking chart for viewing locations

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