Lunar eclipse 2010

At 2:40 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 21, a full eclipse of the moon occurred, and it might be as long four years before anyone will see it again. The last lunar eclipse was on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21, 2008, and the next eclipse is expected to occur in the year 2014. A lunar eclipse has not, however, occurred along with the winter solstice for at least 372 years, so viewing this particular phenomenon was noteworthy. A lunar eclipse is when the earth aligns between the full moon and the sun perfectly, covering the surface of the moon in shadow. This year, the Earth’s shadow covered the moon for nearly 72 minutes. The moon did not disappear completely, though, but it did get much dimmer and seem to change to a coppery red color. The change in pigmentation is due to the sun’s rays reflecting off of the Earth’s atmosphere and illuminating the moon with a strange amber glow. While solar eclipses are harmful to stare at without protection, lunar eclipses present no threats and can be viewed without equipment. This also means the eclipse can be seen from pretty much anyone’s backyard, and was easy viewing for people looking to spot it on the correct night.

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