Posts tagged full moon

Rare solstice lunar eclipse just in time for the Holidays

Everyone knows that “the moon on the breast of new-fallen snow gives the luster of mid-day to objects below.” That is, except during a lunar eclipse.

The luster will be a bit “off” on Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter, when the full Moon passes almost dead-center through Earth’s shadow. For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow.

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the “bite” to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

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A historic full moon will occur this New Year’s Eve, a blue moon.

Full moon coming on New years eve

The coming full moon will be the first New Year’s Eve blue moon – by one definition – since 1990. Credit: Chuck Liddy

On New Year’s Eve, when merrymakers crowd the streets, a blue moon will shine over their festive heads – bringing to the holiday both a night-sky rarity and a decades-old quibble.

Most plainly, a blue moon means seldom. Practically never. It’s shorthand for an event that happens so infrequently you might as well wait for the big white pumpkin in the sky to change color.

But the meaning and roots of the phrase are tangled up in error and dispute. Pick your own explanation and raise a glass to Earth’s lonely satellite.

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