Moon Magic On a Solstice Night

Full moon.

Lunar eclipse.

Winter solstice.

There have three total lunar eclipses in winter within the past 10 years. But there has not been a total lunar eclipse on the longest night of the year – or winter solstice – in the past 456 years. And, there will not be another lunar eclipse on the winter solstice for another 84 years.

Am I going to be outside viewing the big event at 12:01 a.m. on December 21, 2010? Absolutely.

My daughter and I have all the gear set aside for a walk on nearby Ghost Lake – from long underwear, wind pants and heavy winter boots to down coats to hats, mitts and scarves. We’re making a thermos of hot chocolate and packing up the cameras. We’ve been online to NASA’s Science News page  to learn what’s so special about this event.

The earth passes between the full moon and the sun once a month. Normally, the earth, sun and moon are not perfectly aligned. During a lunar eclipse, they are lined up so that the earth’s shadow is cast over the moon.

Tonight’s lunar eclipse, here in Alberta, is set to start at 11:33 p.m. Just over an hour later, totality – the point where the moon is completely in earth’s shadow – will occur. It’s going to be a particularly reddish-colored eclipse. It will last 72 minutes.

I’m don’t know whether or not we’ll last the entire time. Checking Environment Canada’s weather office, current temperature is -19 C ( -2.2 F) with a 4 km/hr (2.5 mi/hr) NW wind. One thing I do know, we’ll be get to see the lunar eclipse of a lifetime, enjoy the outdoors, and will have the right gear for making it as comfortable as possible.

Midnight on a frozen lake never looked so promising! How did it look from your corner of the world? Where did you head out to view the eclipse? Please drop a comment and let us know!

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