|Lunar eclipse. Image: Oliver Stein; Wikimedia Commons.|
The full moon of December 10th, 2011, brings a total lunar eclipse, best viewed in central and eastern Asia. The eclipse will also be visible, at least in part, on the west coast of the United States and Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. View the eclipse in the early morning as the moon sets, before the sun rises.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the moon and the sun. During a total lunar eclipse, the earth throws the entire moon in shadow; during a partial lunar eclipse, the earth's shadow covers only a portion of the moon. The moon looks red during a lunar eclipse because dark red light has a long wavelength. Other colors in the spectrum have shorter wavelengths, more easily scattered by atmospheric molecules and dust.
For more information about the December 2011 lunar eclipse and eclipses in general, check out these useful sites:
- timeanddate.com: Solar and Lunar Eclipses
- Christian Science Monitor: Lunar eclipse: Why will this one be so big and red?
- NASA: Eclipse Web Site
- StarDate: 2011 Lunar and Solar Eclipses
- The Old Farmer's Almanac: Eclipse Dates for 2011
- MrEclipse.com: Lunar Eclipses for Beginners
- EarthSky: Why aren't there eclipses at every full and new moon?
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