Press Release

Total Lunar Eclipse Before Dawn Tues., Dec. 21

By SpaceRef Editor
December 16, 2010
Filed under , ,

A total lunar eclipse will be visible across North America beginning shortly after midnight Tuesday Central Standard Time, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

As Earth’s long shadow falls across the Moon, the part in the shadow will turn dark. It will look as though a chunk were missing from the Moon. About an 70 minutes later, the shadow will completely cover the Moon, an event known as “totality.” This will last for more than an hour, then the shadow will exit the Moon’s opposite side over another hour or so.

The entire event will last about 3.5 hours and can be seen from coast to coast.

High-resolution images and high-definition animation for four U.S. time zones are available online at StarDate’s Media Center:

There, you can also sign up to receive advanced e-mail notices of future skywatching events.

Eclipse times for four U.S. time zones are listed below; note that the eclipse begins on December 20 in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, and on December 21 in the Central and Eastern time zones.

On average, there are two or three lunar eclipses a year. They occur when the alignment of the Sun, Earth, and full Moon is just right, so that the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow. If the shadow completely engulfs the Moon, as in this case, it’s a total eclipse. But if the shadow covers only part of the lunar disk, then it’s a partial eclipse, as occurred in June.


Eclipse begins 1:32 a.m.
Totality 2:41-3:53 a.m.
Eclipse ends 5:01 a.m.

Eclipse begins 12:32 a.m.
Totality 1:41-2:53 a.m.
Eclipse ends 4:01 a.m.

MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE, December 20-21
Eclipse begins 11:32 p.m.
Totality 12:41-1:53 a.m.
Eclipse ends 3:01 a.m.

PACIFIC TIME ZONE, December 20-21
Eclipse begins 10:32 p.m.
Totality 11:41 p.m.-12:53 a.m.
Eclipse ends 2:01 a.m.

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Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, sky maps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.

Established in 1932, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest, which will soon be upgraded to begin the HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Time-zone specific HD animations and high-resolution graphics:

SpaceRef staff editor.