LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – Tonight’s Lunar Eclipse for December 20, 2010 makes history as the first Winter Solstice Eclipse in 456 years. In fact, tonight’s total lunar eclipse is so significant that NASA admits that researchers aren’t sure when the next solstice eclipse will happen. To understand the significance of tonight’s event, NASA this week revealed to news how this spectacular differs from other eclipses this year and next year.
First, tonight’s eclipse is a total lunar eclipse. The last total lunar eclipse was two years ago on February 20, 2008. If you miss tonight, you are in luck. Two total lunar eclipse will light up the sky early next year on June 15, 2011 and later on December 10, 2011.
Second, tonight’s spectacular is the second eclipse this year. A partial lunar eclipse lit up the sky on June 26. Another partial can be seen in just days from now on June 4, 2011.
Third, this is the first Winter Solstice lunar eclipse since 1638. When will be the next one? NASA doesn’t even know the answer. “This solstice eclipse is the first in 456 years, although so far it appears that no one has figured out when the next solstice eclipse will be.”
So when is the start time? Unlike other spectaculars in the sky this year, tonight’s total lunar eclipse will reach different peak times on the west coast compared to the east coast, says NASA to news. The east coast won’t be able to see the totality commencing until after midnight. But on the west coast, the totality will begin before midnight. Outside of North America, it will appear as a partial, not total, lunar eclipse, says NASA to news.
Start time will be Tuesday December 21st at 1:33 am EST on the east coast; west coast residents will see tonight’s total lunar eclipse commence on Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST. This time refers to when the eclipse will begin (partially).
“Totality”, which refers to the total lunar eclipse, will be achieved at 02:41 am EST on the east coast, and 11:41 pm PST on the west coast. Totality will last 72 minutes, says NASA to news.
And when is the best time to see tonight’s event? NASA reveals they know the exact peak time for tonight’s total lunar eclipse. It will be at 03:17 am EST or 17 minutes past midnight PST.