Solstice-Eclipse: First Time Since 1554
Solstice-Eclipse 2010: Winter Solstice-Lunar Eclipse Overlap
The 2010 Winter Solstice will also feature a lunar eclipse. This is the first time that this has happened in 456 years. If you want to watch the Solstice-Eclipse, look skyward at 10:30pm PDT/1:30am EDT.
The Winter Solstice (December 21, 2010) is the shortest day of the year. A lunar eclipse is when the Earth positions itself between the Sun and the Moon, casting its shadow over the Moon.
If you have a planetarium in your city, see if they have any special events going on.
Last time a Solstice-Eclipse occurred, the world was a very different place:
- "Nine Days' Queen" Lady Jane Grey and Lord Guilford Dudley were beheaded for Treason in England
- Walter Raleigh was born
- There was no Twitter
- Travel by horse was as fast as it got, unless you were at sea
Scientifically, however, it's just a coincidence of natural cycles.
"It's quite rare, but there's no profound significance. It's luck of the draw; you got dealt four aces," said Robert Dick, an astronomy instructor at Carleton.
NASA has pinpointed the best moment of the event, for those who are not quite up for a full evening of winter stargazing.
If you're planning to dash out for only one quick look - it is December, after all - choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That's when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.
So you are in for a rare celestial treat on the Winter Solstice... unless you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest, where the forecast calls for clouds most of the time.
Cloudy skies could ruin what would otherwise be a spectacular view of a rare lunar eclipse next week.