Nene Valley Astronomical Society
The Local Society For Amateur Astronomers In Wellingborough & East Northants
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The Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse
 
 
Breakfast time on Tuesday 21st December will be a little unusual as it will see the first Total Lunar Eclipse visible from the UK for
nearly three years.  Although the circumstances of this eclipse are far from ideal, many will still be making the most of this opportunity.
 
The eclipse takes place in the pre-dawn sky with the Full Moon slowly descending towards the north-western horizon, so a clear
viewpoint in this direction will be highly desireable!  The Moon will enter the Earth's umbral shadow at 06h 32m and within a few
 minutes of this you should start to notice a 'bite' being taken out of the Moon's limb.  At this stage the Moon will be around 13
degrees above the North-Western horizon.
 
Over the course of the next hour, as the Moon continues to set, it will move deeper into the shadow of the Earth, until at 07h 41m
it completely enters the shadow of the Earth and the Moon will become totally eclipsed.  Normally, at this stage, the wonderful colours
of a totally eclipsed Moon would become visible, however at this time the Moon is only a matter of a handful of degrees above the
horizon, so unfortunately much of the colour will likely be lost in our atmospheric murk.
 
Mid-totality is reached at 08h 16m (after Sunrise) with Moonset just a matter of moments later.
 
 
Shots Of A Previous Total Lunar Eclipse
 
Even given the poor viewing angle for this particular eclipse, it will still be well worth viewing and hopefully we will be able to
feature a few experiences and images from members in the January issue of 'The Nene Valley Stargazer' (our monthly members
newsletter).  The next Total Lunar Eclipse visible from the UK will be in June 2011, however this will probably be more challenging
than this one.  In the meantime let's hope for clear skies on the morning of December 21st and hopefully it will not be too cold!!
 
 
Steve Williams
 
Taken from the December issue of 'The Nene Valley Stargazer' the monthly
newsletter for members of the Nene Valley Astronomical Society