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Posted at 7:51 AM ET, 12/20/2010

Lunar eclipse meets winter solstice

By Melissa Bell
This five-picture combination shows various stages of a total lunar eclipse over Baghdad in 2007. (Marko Drobnjakovic/AP) | Send in your photos of the eclipse.

Go howl at the moon tonight. A confluence of events means North Americans will have prime viewing seats to a total lunar eclipse of a full moon on the winter solstice.

The moon will pass through the shadow of the Earth early Tuesday morning on the East Coast, turning it a deep reddish brown. Normally, the moon is illuminated by the sun, but the Earth will cut off that light source for a few hours, creating a ghostly moon apparition in the night sky.

The partial eclipse will begin at 1:33 a.m. Eastern, and the total eclipse will last between 2:41 a.m and 3:53 a.m. The partial eclipse will end at 5:01 a.m. (See a graphic of the phases of the eclipse here). Thanks to the confluence with the winter solstice, the moon will appear at the highest peak in the sky, affording better views for all would-be astronomers (and unlike solar eclipses, you can watch the moon with your bare eyes).

In D.C. the Capital Weather Gang is predicting just partly cloudy weather, though temperatures will drop into the freezing. The moon should be visible even if there is a light cloud covering.

This will be the first and only total lunar eclipse of 2010 and next year's lunar eclipses will not be as viewable from North America. For the winter-weary, NASA has a list of livestreaming options, so you can still see the moon, only from an indoor vantage point. Everyone else brave enough to weather the cold, howl away.

Livestream from SpaceVidCast:

Some spots that are hosting lunar eclipse viewing parties:

University of Maryland Observatory
3300 Metzerott Rd
College Park, MD 20742

Griffith Park Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Adler Planetarium
1300 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605

Google Earth
Google's teamed up with Slooh Sky camera to broadcast a live feed of the event on Google Earth. Just click on the planets icon in the Google Earth toolbar to switch to Sky mode and, in the layers panel, open the Current Sky Events folder and click on the Slooh Space Camera layer.

Post has been updated to include more exact times of eclipse.

By Melissa Bell  | December 20, 2010; 7:51 AM ET
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I've found a ton of great viewing information about the eclipse on this site. Hope you all enjoy tonight's show! -

Posted by: AllPointsHelp | December 20, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Actually, the "Total" part of the eclipse starts at 2:41 EST and lasts only one hour and twelve minutes. The moon enters the earth's shadow at 1:33 and completely leaves the shadow at 5:00.

Posted by: charlesdeering | December 20, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Here is my take on the Lunar Eclipse:

Posted by: spellingchimp | December 20, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't NASA or whoever is responsible for this, schedule it for a more convenient hour?

Posted by: rjma1 | December 20, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I remember viewing the last Lunar Eclipse in 2008 I believe. I encourage everyone
to take a look at it. It will definately remind you of just how small you are and put everything into perspective. It's a humbling experience.

Posted by: carterm1 | December 20, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to echo rjma1 comments about those responsible scheduling this at a decent hour, I also would be most appreciative if this event could be scheduled during the warm season. I could see staying outside all night on a warm July eve, but Dec? C'mon celestial schedule makers, get a clue!

Posted by: rcupps | December 20, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Dec. 21st 2010 1.30 AM Eastern Std time here is north Suburban Atlanta GA. The full moon is at its zenith ( 12 o'clock high ) The temp is below freezing and dusty black clouds move across with clear patches. It is clear white moon emitting torch like effect way up in the sky. But there is not a sign of any darking, and or red hew or any thing.

The picture perfect reflection is that the moon is moving like a slow space ship. In fact its position is changing from east to west.

Posted by: winemaster2 | December 21, 2010 1:30 AM | Report abuse

I enjoyed it greatly, courtesy of a clear sky and cold clear high-pressure air. The color seemed to range from a dark rose in the left lower quadrant to tangerine in the right upper quadrant.

It seemed to me that the limb of the right upper quadrant was never fully occulted. Was that a correct impression? I wonder if current earth-moon distance, or inclination of the moon's orbit vis-a-vis the plane of the earth's orbit, might play roles in how complete the occultation of a "total" eclipse would be.

Posted by: laboo | December 21, 2010 4:07 AM | Report abuse

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