Monday, December 20, 2010

Rupertites may be in store for celestial treat tonight

It's a combination of events that haven't taken place since 1554, but if the skies over the North coast remain clear overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning, the last lunar eclipse of 2010 and the first one to take place on the Winter's solstice in 456 years will provide for a spectacle in the night sky.

North coast stargazers and amateur astronomers should look towards the moon around 10:30 on Monday night, when the moon will enter the darkest part of the Earth's shadow. The celestial show continues on past the midnight hour when the moon will be at the deepest portion of its eclipse at 12:17am and then will emerge from the shadow around 12:50, the night time show should be complete by 2 am.

The fact that this eclipse is taking place during the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) is considered more of a coincidence than anything else, a handy conversation topic for those looking up into the night skies.

So far, it's so good for the weather forecast for Monday night with a clear  but chilly night in the forecast.

There are however some snow flurries in the forecast for Tuesday and with them will come clouds, hopefully the clouds and flurries will hold off until later in the sunny part of the day Tuesday.

A sentiment no doubt shared especially by those that feel a little cheated by our past regular climatic cycles of clouds during major star gazing events.

Some background information on Monday night's show can be found below.

Sky and Telescope-- A sky high lunar eclipse
Victoria Times Colonist-- Clouds may rain on lunar eclipse enthusiasts
USA Today-- Entire nation gets a 'ringside seat' to total lunar eclipse
CNN-- Final lunar eclipse of 2010 set for early morning of December 21
Seattle Post-- Get ready for a total lunar eclipse
Globe and Mail-- Rare lunar eclipse to start early Tuesday morning
ABC Australia-- There's a blood moon on the rise
CTV-- Extremely rare lunar eclipse set for Tuesday
Chicago Tribune-- Winter's longest night offers astronomical gift
NPR -- Early Christmas treat: 2010's Total Lunar Eclipse
PC Magazine-- Lunar Eclipse, Winter Solstice Coincide This Tuesday
Fox News-- Will Tuesday Be the Darkest Day in 456 Years?
CBC-- Double Darkness
MSNBC-- How to watch the Dec. 20 total lunar eclipse
Discover Magazine-- Lunar eclipse Monday night
Live Science-- Total Lunar Eclipse, Winter Solstice & Meteor Shower

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