Tonight, two astrological events will combine to create a truly rare occurrence. The winter solstice occurs tonight — or tomorrow morning, depending on where you happen to live — meaning that it’s the longest night of the year. Combine that with a lunar eclipse, which only occurs a few times per year, and you have the recipe for one of the longest, darkest nights that any living human has had the opportunity to witness. This rare combination hasn’t occurred since 2010, and before that it hadn’t happened in nearly 400 years, so it’s pretty special.
The eclipse, which should begin at around 1:30 a.m. EST, will cover the moon in Earth’s shadow. The moon’s glowing sphere will slowly be covered in darkness until “totality,” which is the point at which the moon is completely covered in shadow. At that point, the moon will appear to turn orange as the sun’s light beaming through Earth’s atmosphere gently illuminates it. It will remain that way for over an hour before the sun peeks around the other side of Earth and its beams strike the moon once more.
As Wired notes, the best time to catch a brief look at the eclipse itself would be around 3:17 a.m. EST, as the moon will be completely behind the Earth and should have a nice reddish glow.
Unfortunately, not all areas of the globe will get to enjoy this rare treat, as the eclipse will only be fully visible for North America, Greenland, and parts of Russia, with limited visibility in South America and sections of Europe.
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