Total Lunar Eclipse Information – December 21, 2010

Are you ready? As promised, here comes more detailed information on the 2010 total lunar eclipse. Step inside and find out where and when to watch!

The eclipse begins for eastern North America on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST and occurs on Monday night, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST for western North America. At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red crescent at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the Earth’s shadow to fully encompass the visible side of the Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes. Western Europe and the northwestern portion of Africa will also be treated to a portion of the eclipse at moonset. The point of deepest shadow will occur at 08:17 UT and totality ends 36 minutes later at 08:53 UT. At that time, a silver sliver will once again appear along the lunar limb, where for one hour and eight minutes it will continue until the Moon passes out of the umbral shadow at 10:01 UT. From there it will pass into the penumbral shadow for an additional hour and four minutes until the show ends at 11:05 UT.

Where will the Moon appear? Of course it will be along the ecliptic plane and in very good company – riding high above Orion. Be sure to look for a triple red treat as the show forms a triangle with blushing Betelgeuse and ruddy Aldebaran. As the Moon darkens, be sure to look for wonderful unaided eye deep space objects you can’t see during a full Moon – like the Plieades (M45) and the Great Orion Nebula (M42). What a Christmas treat!

Photographing or videotaping a total lunar eclipse is quite easy, but remember if you live in a cold climate that there are a few very important rules to follow. Number one is to be sure to protect your hands. It’s very easy to get involved with the equipment and ignore what seems like a slight discomfort. You don’t want to experience freezing your fingers to a metal surface or risking frostbite! The second rule is to remember that cold batteries drain very, very quickly. You can easily avoid frustration by simply keeping spares somewhere handy next to your skin. Of course, getting to them might be a ticklish situation! The last rule to remember is simply to dress for success. Multiple loose layers of clothing, hat, gloves and proper footgear are a must where the winter season means bitter cold temperatures.

Now all that’s left is just to let the hours count down… and enjoy!

Fun Facts from NASA: 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.”

29 Replies to “Total Lunar Eclipse Information – December 21, 2010”

  1. @etruss: The Ad’s are served by Google, Universe Today has no control over the individual ads themselves. Its something you would have to take up with Google.

    Any idea if the lunar eclipse is visible in Oceania?

    1. Yes.

      For all Kiwis, the eclipse begins before moonrise.

      According to Stuff the furth north you are in NZ the more we’ll get to see.
      For those in the far north the moon will rise in partial eclipse, further south will get to see the moon rise in total eclipse, while those in the far south will get to see the tail end of it.

  2. Looks like Vancouver shall be clouded in tonight 🙁

    I had hoped to photograph the eclipse tonight, but In anticipation of cloudy weather (when is it not cloudy in the winter in Vancouver?), I’ve made a simulation of what the Lunar Eclipse will look like from Vancouver, using Stellarium, it can be viewed here:

    or here:

  3. Good on you Trippy!! I too, am sick of being treated as a second-class nobody! Australia and New Zealand, as usual, didn’t get a mention in this story UT really needs desperately needs a southern based reporter!!! Please…

    For all us “poor” neglected Aussies…

    On the east coast, at moonrise in Brisbane at 7:40pm. (AEST, no DST) [sunset at 18:42pm], the moon will be in total eclipse, immersed in Venus’ Cloak or the famed Belt of Venus (technically anti-twilight arch). South of the mid-north coast of New South Wales will miss totality. [This could make the colouration of the lunar disk a bit strange, but might make a good picture!]
    In Sydney, the eclipse will emerge in a partial eclipse with a small slivery portion of the moon illuminated after just coming out of eclipse. Moonrise is around 8:04pm (local time AEST, with DST) Regardless, you’ll need a good north-eastern to eastern horizon to see it! The rest of the country will see only the final appearance of a partial eclipse.
    Melbourne will see at moonrise, but sadly, only 10%-15% or so will be eclipsed at around 8:45 pm.
    (At least in the southern hemisphere it is currently summer, and we can observe the eclipse in temperatures in the mid-20 C (80F). Meanwhile our American and European cousins, for the most part, will be freezing their ‘proverbials’ off! Pity.)

  4. @HSBC:
    While I typically enjoy and learn from your posts, your incessant bitching about Australia and the Southern Hemisphere being ignored by UT is growing tiresome. Fraser is from British Columbia in North America, so it’s no surprise that the site may be somewhat North America-centric. If you don’t like it, I suggest you start your own Astronomy and Science related website. Enough.

    1. “…site may be somewhat North America-centric.”

      Sorry. This is the central problem. If you want people to visit and interact with this site it should be international. I know that many here use this site to gain information on there astronomical and space science updates. It breezy and useful to everyone, not just North Americans.

      Frankly, if you want to live in an isolated island away from the rest of the world, that’s not my problem.

      My comment just points out that others can see this eclipse, including (as I have not mentioned) in Japan, and much of South America. Perhaps there are few people reading this story there, but shouldn’t it be available to them?

      Finally a question to you. Do you think Fraser might like to increase his readership all over the world? Do you think having some North American bias only just limits those possibilities?
      I’d wouldn’t think that so!

      1. I’m not the only one who thinks this way I.e. “GekkoNZ.” says in this story;
        Any idea if the lunar eclipse is visible in Oceania?

        See how saying “Sorry mate. Your not from North America.” goes down!

      2. As for “…own Astronomy and Science related website.”

        One of the nice one is at Sydney Observatory
        Not many daily updates, but the stories are at least nearest the usual quality of Universe Today.
        Maybe Fraser might like to like to contact Dr. Nick Lomb, who is the curator, some of these stories to UT ones too. It might even up the balance in the origin of stories for a more “international perspective”?

  5. oh, sal… now who features more observatories, astrophotos, etc. from my mates in australia than me? (and i live in ohio!) for our friends “down under” – please do forgive what you might consider a slight because i didn’t mention times for you… i just didn’t want to rub it in that north was the place to be this time…

    and south would definately be the preferred climate over what we have here!

    1. At least it will be our turn next year, specifically on 15th June 2011 and 10th December 2011. You guys will have to wait until the next total lunar eclipse 15th April, 2014… and at least this one is in much better climate conditions for you.

      What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts“, as they say.

    2. No offense taken on my part at least – although I will say this. UT ran an article a while ago about the guy from New Zealand that discovered that ridge on the moon…

      Not one single newspaper in New Zealand picked up on it.

      It’s 29°C (84°F) and 20% Humidity outside at the moment, there’s a Nor-wester blowing at 50 kph (31 mph) gusting up to 85 kph (53 mph) the moment, which where I live means that it’s got to go up over a big mountain range (mmm adiabatic heating anyone) it’s hot outside and it’s worse in the wind.

      Unfortunately for us there’s a cold front scheduled to roll across much of the country later today (or this evening) meaning that many parts of the country may not get to see anything.

      1. @ Trippy,
        For me, the conditions haven’t look so good for ages, where the next week is predicted for showers and/or cloudy conditions. North and south of me don’t look as promising.
        I’ll be taking the wee ‘scope out on the street footpath and I’ll showing the lunar eclipse off to all the neighbours. Good for community moral, I’d think!

  6. @HSBC: Sorry I touched a nerve, that wasn’t my intention, and I certainly don’t live on an island, I very much have enjoyed my trips down under, it is a beautiful country. It just seems that you’ve posted numerous comments mentioning a perceived North American bias in UT’s reporting, and I don’t see this as entirely true. Rather than piss and moan about said slights, why not contact Fraser directly and become a writer and contributor for the Southern Hemisphere. You certainly don’t lack opinions, and as I said in my previous post, I typically find your comments interesting and informative. Merry Christmas.

  7. The eclipse is just over. I got a few images of the early umbra contact between clouds then got chased inside by a sudden downpour. Then a hole appeared and I went back out. I got two more shots as the last of the penumbra disappeared and it started pouring again! Did I mention that Its wet in Northern Calif.?

  8. UT in UT – I wondered who would pick that up.

    HSBC stands for Hongkong and Shanghi Banking Corporation (or similar) in the UK.

    Brian Sheen

  9. Great to hear from Tammy again – by the time I got to see her feature the eclipse was history however. For us in the UK the Moon set in eclipse – a horizontal eclipse in fact, but that happened for me in the horizon rim of cloud,

    So far as the date given of 1638 it may have been the 21st Dec – I have had a very quick look and it seems not to have been the solstice however – precession etc. .A earlier date AD 93? has also been given.

    I would like all timings to be given in UT in addition to the US times broadens your sites world wide appeal.

    Brian Sheen – Roseland Observatory.

    1. UT or GMT. Either of them is good as an anchor for calculating the local time for the rest of the world.

  10. Just watched the moon rise slowly from the eastern horizon from the east in the evening. Very disturbing. Perfectly clear sky, and the moon moving through Belt of Venus looked a bit odd, as the colour of the crescent portion of the moon (like the ☽)was a distinct bright orange colour and not the eclipsed portion!
    A few folk (neighbours) came out to have a quick look through the telescope, and even though the umbral shadow looked decisively hazy, we could also see the craters emerging from their hour and a bit time in shadow. Near the end of the the partial phase, as I write this, the face visible on the moon — that is the southern “Man in the Moon” (which is upside down compared to the northern observers) , and he looks like he’s wearing his dapper top hat being just slightly tilted to its side. Temperature was a pleasant 21C-22C (~75-77F) on a delightful summer’s evening. Fun, even though it was rather short!
    At least I’ve done my sidewalk astronomy public service duty for the day!!!
    Good stuff! ★★ ★ ★ ★

  11. South West Ireland -8C 7.45GMT

    Moon very low on the horizon, I thought it was a very dark red in comparison to eclipses I have seen before, probably the extra atmosphere.

  12. A really true comment appear by blogger “dom” in the New York Times on-line, who was responding to people who were asking where to look. He said;

    “Look for the moon. If you cannot find it, you shouldn’t be watching anyway.“

    Ha! Classic! 🙂

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