A Total Lunar Eclipse will darken the Moon on December 21. The entire event will be visible from North America with areas to the east, such as South America, Europe, and western Africa, catching the eclipse during Moonset and areas to the west, such as Australia and eastern and northern Asia, seeing the event at Moonrise. Only southern and eastern Africa, the Middle East and India and surrounding countries will miss out on the eclipse entirely. The limb of the Moon begins to fall into the dark shadow of Earth at Dec. 21 6:32 a.m. UTC. The total stage, when the Moon is completely within Earth’s shadow, lasts for approximately 73 minutes, from 5:40 a.m. to 8:53 a.m. UT. During totality, the Moon can take on strange shades, from orange to red to violet, depending on the particulates in the atmosphere at different locations. The event is over by 10:02 a.m. UT.
Philippine observers will have a chance to witness a Partial Lunar Eclipse at moonrise (5:31 PM) on Dec. 21, 2010. The major phases (visible to the Philippines) of the eclipse are as follows:
(All in PST= UT +8)
5:31 PM — Moonrise (~40-50% partiality, 65 degrees azimuth NE)
6:01 PM — Partial eclipse ends
7:04 PM — Penumbral eclipse ends (~5 deg. from the horizon)
Lunar eclipses are safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes. A pair of binocular will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the Moon brighter.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon is full and passes exactly through the line connecting the Earth and the sun.
Note: Observing this eclipse is a challenge 😀 You need a very clear eastern horizon to see this (Moon will be just about 5 degrees above the horizon. The general rule amateur astronomers use is that the width of your fist from top to bottom held at arm’s length equals about 10 degrees.)
Weather forecast (Manila) for tomorrow: http://bit.ly/hKVxse (includes percent cloud cover, chance of precipitation, wind direction, etc.)
Let’s pray for clear skies 🙂
*Percent partiality are only based on my estimations (using Stellarium).
Coincidences: This lunar eclipse falls on the date of the northern winter solstice. How rare is that? Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual. Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years. “Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21,” says Chester. “Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21.” – SPACE.com
Winter Solstice in the Philippines however, will occur at 7:38 AM, Dec. 22, 2010 (according to PAGASA), which means that the partial lunar eclipse and the winter solstice will NOT happen on the same calendar date.
Nonetheless, astronomer Phil Plait (BadAstronomer) said that, “Technically, eclipse is same day as solstice, but it’s not significant. If you use GMT, all of eclipse is same day as solstice…but no one in GMT time zone will be able to see the eclipse!”
Related APOD: A Lunar Eclipse on Solstice Day
Eclipse circumstances on other parts of the globe: NASA Eclipse Website
Those who will not see the eclipse from their location can watch online thanks to Night Skies Network (NSN).
You can also get involved in the “Eclipses Without Borders“, another great project by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB).