Look up! Something to look forward to on the night of December 20 and into the early morning hours of the 21st. The above image is the Moon in a total lunar eclipse as seen on October 27, 2004 from the United States.
Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth, Sun and Moon are aligned with each other. The Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon every month and that’s when we see a full Moon, but because the Moon’s orbit is tilted relative to the Earth, we only occasionally get eclipses. Partial eclipses are more common as the Earth, Moon, and Sun are not quite aligned. This eclipse on the 20th/21st will be a total eclipse as seen by people in the US.
Check out Fred Espenak’s site for some great information on where and when the eclipse will be visible and what to expect. Lunar eclipses are great to watch because you don’t have to worry about eye protection as you do when observing solar eclipses. So sit back and enjoy!
Here’s one more image from Forrest J. Egan at Digital Astro showing a time-lapse image of the lunar eclipse of October 2004. For more detailed information on this image go to the “Astronomy Picture of the Day” site.
Till next time,