Monday, December 20, 2010

Tonight's Eclipse of the Moon and Winter Soltice

For the first time in 372 years, the winter equinox and a total lunar eclipse happen on the same day, and North America is one of the best spots to view the show.

What causes a Lunar Eclipse ?
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow. Earth always has a shadow, which is created by the Sun. On those rare occasions when the Moon, Earth and the Sun are all lined up just right, the Moon passes through this shadow.This would happen every full moon if the Moon orbited around the Earth in the same plane as the Earth orbits around the Sun. The Moons orbit, however, is tilted about 5 degrees above the Earth-Sun plane. This tilt itself, however, rotates, allowing eclipses to happen when the tilt of this plane lines up with the Earth-Sun plane, blocking sunlight.

An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one inside the other
. Colors and the deepness of the shadow on the surface are affected by the type of eclipse, local weather conditions, atmospheric conditions, and the geographic location of the observer,tonight across the USA we should see a coppery red color..

Total Lunar Eclipse
The entire Moon passes through the Earth's umbral shadow. During the time of totality the moons color may change to a dull copper tone, an effect caused by earth shine or reflected earth light. The moon can stay in the umbrals shadow for as long as 90 minutes.

And for those of us whom would like to photograph the eclipse,here are a few tips.
If you have a point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens, zoom the lens out as far as you can to get the highest possible magnification.
The minimum focal length for getting a good-looking Moon picture is about 300 mm.
Photographing an eclipse may require exposure times 4 to 1,000 times longer as compared to recording a normal full moon.
Here is some great info on photographing an eclipse! just click ..

So make sure u bundle up and be prepared to be up late.The view promises to be worth it..share any pics you may get..have a great day everyone..

 Find out when to look for the moon during this awesome event! click to see short video!  Eclipse of the moon

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