Total Lunar Eclipse and Winter Solstice to Collide for First Time in 456 Years

This coming Tuesday, the sun and moon with both appear at their darkest as the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur at the same time for the first time in 456 years. Those in North America will be particularly well positioned to see the lunar eclipse, according to NASA.

A lunar eclipse is a bi-annual event which occurs when the earth blocks the sun's rays from hitting the moon. But, this is the first time in 35 months that a total lunar eclipse has been seen and is said to be the "best lunar show" until 2014.

The eclipse will begin at 1:33 am and last until 5:01 am EST, however the actual eclipse portion will last just 72 minutes, between 2:41 am and 3:53 am. During this time the full moon may appear a bright red or blood orange color.

The winter solstice, the "darkest day of the year", also occurs on Tuesday. The Earth's axial tilt moves the planet farthest from the sun, and the day is shorter.

Comments

Actually perihelion is 13 days after the solstice.

The day of the winter solstice is not the year's shortest because the planet is farthest from the sun. This is a common misconception. If that were the case, then why is the winter solstice for the northern hemisphere also the summer solstice, and therefore the longest day of the year, in the southern hemisphere? December 21st of this year is the shortest day of the year for the north of the planet, solely because the northern hemisphere is on that day at a greater axial tilt away from the sun than on any other day of the year.

According to Wikipedia, "Earth comes closest to the sun every year around January 3", not farthest. The article's relationship of axial tile and distance from the sun seems to be questionable.

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Article reads:

"The Earth's axial tilt moves the planet farthest from the sun, and the day is shorter."

Should read:

"The Earth's axial tilt moves the planet's north pole farthest from the sun, and the day is the shortest of the year in the northern hemisphere."

Q.E.D.

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