Total Lunar Eclipse December 2010

A total eclipse of the Moon occurs during the early morning hours of December 21, 2010 (for observers in western North America and Hawaii, the eclipse actually begins on the evening of December 20). The entire lunar eclipse event is visible from North America, Greenland and Iceland. Western Europe will see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset while western Asia will get the later stages after moonrise. During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon’s disk can take on a dramatically colorful appearance from bright orange to blood red and more rarely dark brown to very dark gray.

One of the great things about total lunar eclipses is that they are completely safe to view with the naked eye. No special filters are required to protect your eyes like those used for solar eclipses. You don’t even need a telescope to watch the eclipse although a good pair of binoculars will help.

An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of Earth’s shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other. The outer shadow or penumbra is a zone where Earth blocks some (but not all) of the Sun’s rays. In contrast, the inner shadow or umbra is a region where Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.