Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse

This morning's lunar eclipse occured at approximately 7.40am when the moon passed behind the earth so that the earth blocked the sun's rays from striking the moon and giving it a rosy glow. This occurs only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly ( or almost so ) with the Earth in the middle. There is always a full moon on the night of a lunar eclipse and today's eclipse was of particular signifigance as it is also the Midwinter Solstice. It is the first total lunar eclipse in three years and the first to fall on the Winter Solstice - the shortest day of the year - in nearly 500 years and the next one is 84 years time.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be viewed from a certain relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of the Earth. A lunar eclipse lasts for a few hours, whereas a total solar eclipse lasts for only a few minutes at any given place. Some lunar eclipses have been associated with important historical events.

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