A Winter Solstice Eclipse

December 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

On Tuesday, December 21, we will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. December 21 is also the Winter Solstice, so we are having an eclipse on the first day of winter.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. This can only happen when the Moon is full and lined up with the Earth and the Sun. It has been a while since we’ve seen one here in New Jersey. The last time was in February of 2008. Lunar eclipses are generally visible more frequently than eclipses of the Sun because they are visible over a wider area.

On the morning of Tuesday December 21, the full Moon can be seen high in the southern sky above the constellation Orion. The partial phase of the eclipse begins at 1:33 a.m. If you watch the Moon you will see it slowly entering the Earth’s shadow. It takes about an hour for the Moon to be completely covered. During this time you may see the Moon change color. It often gets a reddish or orange color. This is due to our atmosphere which filters out other colors from the sunlight which illuminates the Moon.

The total eclipse starts at 2:41 a.m., the maximum comes at 3:17 a.m. and ends at 3:53 a.m. The Moon then starts to emerge from the other side of the Earth’s shadow. It finally leaves the shadow at 5:01 a.m. and the eclipse comes to an end.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is safe to look at without filters. You don’t need any equipment, just clear skies and your eyes. But a pair of binoculars can give you a close up view of the Moon’s surface during the event. Just simply go outside find the Moon and enjoy!

Later in the day you can celebrate the solstice at 6:38 p.m. At this point the Sun is at its most southern point in the sky so the days are short and the nights are long. This event marks the beginning of the winter season for the northern hemisphere.

For updates on the night sky, call the Newark Skyline at 973-596-6529, visit the Planetarium’s Sky Watch page or listen to our New Jersey Skies podcast.

 Kevin D. Conod is the planetarium manager & astronomer at the Newark Museum’s Dreyfuss Planetarium.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Education, Natural Science, Planetarium, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , .

Science Explorers Learn the Moves as Generation Fit Ambassadors Museum Gift Shop After-Holiday Sale – 50% Select Items

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Join the Newark Museum blog page!

Join 234 other followers

Follow us on Twitter

Newark Museum Flickr Photos

Calendar

December 2010
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Feb »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives


%d bloggers like this: