Total Eclipse of the Moon: Winter Solstice Edition

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A total lunar eclipse February 20, 2008.

Will you stay up to watch a red moon? No it’s not some freaky holiday movie, but rather a lunar eclipse.

Monday night sky gazers in North and Central America will be graced with the best seats in the house to watch the only lunar eclipse of the year. The lunar eclipse, in a beautiful twist for the holidays, coincides with the Winter Solstice to add just a bit more magic to the week leading up to Christmas. Those gazing from South America will see most of it while those in Europe will only catch the start, and those in Asia will be able to tune in for the end. But the best place to watch it will be on the West Coast of America at 11:41 p.m. PST Monday/2:41 a.m. EST Tuesday (NewsFeed is nothing if not precise). The total eclipse will last for approximately an hour.

(See the Moon in the Top 10 of Everything 2010.)

Due to the amount of recent volcanic eruptions across the globe spewing up tonnes of dust into the atmosphere, scientists believe that instead of the usual orange/yellow tinge, the moon will adopt a red or brown appearance. A lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon, which is normally illuminated by the Sun, passes through the shadow of the Earth, which blocks the Sun’s light from bouncing off the moon. The moon is thus illuminated with the little light which is reflected off the Earth and appears as a ghostly hue in the night sky.

(See photos of a total eclipse of the Sun.)

Fear not if you think you’ll miss the action, as both NASA and the Griffith Observatory will be streaming the eclipse live. (Via Huffington Post)