Total Eclipse of the Moon

July 16, 2000 eclipse

According to NASA, a rare event will occur during the wee hours of tomorrow morning, Dec. 21. A total eclipse of the full moon will occur on winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest day of the year

The eclipse for the East Coast will begin at approximately 1:33 a.m. with the total eclipse occurring at 3:17 a.m. when the earth’s shadow will completely cover the moon for 72 minutes.  The entire event will last around three hours and twenty-eight minutes.

Lucky for sky viewers on the East Coast who will have clear views unlike many sections of America that are under cloud cover. During the eclipse, we can watch the moon change colors from gray to yellow to orange to red at total eclipse. This phenomena of color occurs due to the indirect light from the sun passing through the earth’s atmosphere where blue hues are filtered out.

The winter solstice is the official beginning of winter with the sun at its lowest in the sky and the earth’s axis will hit full tilt. The last time these events occurred together was Dec. 21, 1638. The next time these events occur on the same calendar day will be Dec. 21, 2094, visible next time from much of Europe, Africa and Asia. Humans throughout time have honored the occasion of winter solstice with celebrations. After tomorrow, days will gradually grow longer until the summer solstice in 2011. Even though the months to come will seem just the same, thoughts turn toward spring with the eventual return of the sun.

I have set my alarm for 3 a.m and will step outside, protected by a down jacket, hat and mittens, just to witness this once in my lifetime event.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester