Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Despite staying after work till almost midnight working on Xmas gifts, I stayed up super-late to see the lunar eclipse that lasted from around 1-4 AM when I got home.

It was friggin' freezing outside, but I periodically went out to sit on my back patio & observe its slow progress. I've seen a lunar eclipse before, but this was a rare occurrence of a total eclipse on the day of the winter solstice, which hasn't happened in almost 400 years.

The night sky was perfectly clear & I first went out just as the Earth's shadow started passing over the edge of the Moon. I had layers of clothes on w/ my face all wrapped up in a snowcap, a scarf & multiple hoods. If it wasn't so damn cold, sitting outside in the still of the night for this celestial event would have been completely relaxing.

When the shadow was about halfway over the Moon's surface, it looked totally crazy. Maybe it was partly because my eyes were teary but the glare off one half of the Moon was dazzling, & the other half was dark w/ a reddish tinge. Visually, it was very bizarre. It also seemed to be very low in the sky for some reason. I could see why ancient people probably looked at a cosmic event like this & were astounded.

This is a good representation of what it looked like when the Moon was completely covered & when the shadow was partially over:

I was waiting for the red-tinged shadow to pass as I kept alternating between resting on my couch and peeking out the window. Eventually I passed out sometime after 3:30, still in my coat, & woke up a few hours later for work. I'm definitely glad I got to see such an interesting phenomenon.

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