The NASA website says “For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow”.
The “ruddy shadow” begins at 1:33 a.m. EST on December 21 (first day of winter), with eart’s shadow taking a “bite” out of the lunar disk. The “bite” is dark red and will completely cover the moon at 2:41 a.m. EST and will last 72 minutes.
According to the NASA website, the best time to view the eclipse is at 3:17 a.m. EST when the moon “will be in the deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shade of coppery red.
First Day of Winter
With the longest day taking place on June 21st, the shortest day is usually on December 21st, but does vary. This is when days begin to become shorter. This is good news for those who suffer from the winter blues. The day is best known as the Winter Solstice.
For thousands of years this day has been celebrated by several different cultures. In Norse legend the day is referred to Jul. Old Europe referred to the day as Yule and to the western world it is known as Christmas.
The Circle Sanctuary website states that “Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with “Christmas” actually are linked to Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures”.
The Winter Solstice celebrates the birth of the new solar year. Some of the rituals are:
- exchanging gifts with family & friends
- decorating your home with lights of green, white, & red
- hanging a Yule wreath on your front door and a mistletoe indoors in a doorway.
- spread sunflower seeds outside to feed the birdsgreet
- at dawn ring bells
As you can see, many of the celebrations are very much what we do to celebrate Christmas.
For more information on how the Winter Solstice is celebrated see Celebrating the Seasons.
According to guardian.co. uk the last time a total lunar eclipse occurred during winter solstice was in 1638.