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Unique Lunar Eclipse During Winter Solstice

December 20, 2010

The last lunar eclipse of 2010 occurs tonight at the same time as the winter solstice. The eclipse will last 72 minutes. The timing of the major eclipse phases are listed below in universal time (UT).

Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 05:29:17 UT
Partial Eclipse Begins: 06:32:37 UT
Total Eclipse Begins: 07:40:47 UT
Greatest Eclipse: 08:16:57 UT
Total Eclipse Ends: 08:53:08 UT
Partial Eclipse Ends: 10:01:20 UT
Penumbral Eclipse Ends: 11:04:31 UT

During totality, the winter constellations are well placed for viewing so a number of bright stars can be used for magnitude comparisons. Pollux (mv = +1.16) is 25° east of the eclipsed Moon, while Betelgeuse (mv = +0.45) is 16° to the south, Aldebaran (mv = +0.87) is 20° to the west, and Capella (mv = +0.08) is 24° to the north.

The entire event is visible from North America and western South America. Observers along South America’s east coast miss the late stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Likewise much of Europe and Africa experience moonset while the eclipse is in progress. Only northern Scandinavians can catch the entire event from Europe. For observers in eastern Asia the Moon rises in eclipse. None of the eclipse is visible from south and east Africa, the Middle East or South Asia.

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